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Louisiana traffic fatalities, part 2: alcohol-impaired driving

Posted on April 2, 2014

Statistics seldom (if ever) tell a story on their own.

As we noted in part one of this post, however, knowing the broader statistical story regarding Louisiana traffic fatalities may be useful to know in putting your family’s story into a wider context.

In this part of the post, let’s look at a particular type of fatal car accident: those that involve drunk drivers.

Federal data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that Louisiana had 241 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2012.

The overall number of traffic fatalities in Louisiana that year was 722. This means that fully one-third of all traffic deaths in the state were caused by alcohol-impaired (i.e., drunk) driving. This is somewhat higher than the national percentage of 31 percent.

NHTSA defines alcohol-impaired driving fatalities as fatalities in which the BAC of all involved drivers or motorcyclists was .08 or above. In other words, alcohol-impaired driving is essentially synonymous with drunk driving.

That is of course a pretty narrow definition of impaired driving. After all, there is increasing evidence that “buzzed” driving – involving BAC of as little as .01 – is also an impairment that significantly increases the risk of crashes.

Granted, one could take some melancholy consolation in the fact that alcohol-impaired driving fatalities have declined somewhat in recent years. Nationally, they went down from 11, 711 in 2008 to 10, 322 in 2012. In Louisiana, the decline was from 339 to 241.

But given the value of each human life, these fatality numbers are still too high – especially for families that have lost someone to a devastating accident that can never be summed up in any statistical chart.

Source: NHTSA.gov, “Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: Louisiana, U.S. and Best State,” Accessed April 2, 2014