A Pennsylvania survey attempting to measure drunk driving has been embroiled in a lawsuit. But, what’s interesting are statistics that have emerged during the process about driving while intoxicated or impaired.
The traffic survey in question directed drivers off of the main roadway and into a parking lot. There, they were tested for the presence of alcohol. The suit contends that motorists were forced to participate in the survey, and that their constitutional rights were violated. (The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution secures to people the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.)
In the hubbub about the survey, some statistics concerning driving while intoxicated have been reported. The good news is that, generally, over a 40-year time horizon the rate of drunk driving has declined. The bad news, though, is that recently the rate of highway deaths due to drunk driving has increased. The numbers show that, from 2011 to 2012, the rate rose by 4.6 percent. During that period, crashes caused by drunk drivers led to 10,322 highway deaths.
Any improvement in the rate of drunk driving is welcome news, and we are glad the figures broadly reveal a decline. But the recent upturn is alarming. Overshadowing that, however, is the number of 10,322 people killed: this figure is staggering and-when compared to the 148 deaths suffered by U.S. soldiers in the Gulf War-is completely unacceptable. Our country must continue to rigorously enforce laws prohibiting drunk driving.