Report Shows Drunk Driving on the Rise in the Region

Posted: April 17, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Elena Barbre

A report conducted by the Graduate School of Education’s Center for the Advancement of Public Health for the Washington Regional Alcohol Program (WRAP) shows that for a second consecutive year, traffic deaths and crashes attributable to alcohol are increasing in the Washington metropolitan area.

WRAP’s ninth annual report, “How Safe Are Our Roads? A Data Report on the Impact of Drunk Driving on Highway Safety in the Washington Metropolitan Region,” finds that drunk driving deaths in the area increased by 16 percent, from 82 deaths in 1999 to 95 deaths in 2000, and that the number of traffic crashes caused by alcohol and/or drugs also increased by more than 4 percent. Conversely, local arrests for either driving under the influence or driving while intoxicated dipped slightly during that time period.

Of the Washington area’s 325 total traffic fatalities in 2000, 29 percent were alcohol- and/or drug-related. National statistics for that year show that 40 percent of total U.S. traffic fatalities were reported as alcohol- and/or drug-related.

“We should be proud that the percentage of alcohol-related fatalities in the Washington metropolitan region is lower than the national statistic,” says Blakely Pomietto, public health specialist at the Center for the Advancement of Public Health and project manager for the report. “However, this is tempered by the fact that the number of lives lost to alcohol-related crashes in our region is the highest it has been in four years.”

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