Tatyana Deryugina (Twitter: @TDeryugina)

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Who drives drunk?

Posted 20 Feb 11 by Tatyana

A while back, I had a discussion about the age of drunk drivers. Two related questions came up: what age are most drunk drivers? And are teenagers more likely to drive drunk (in terms of probability) than those in their 20′s. We tend to think of teenagers as less responsible, which may imply they are more likely to drive drunk. On the other hand, there are probably more drivers in their 20′s (and they may also drive more miles), so the overall number of drunk-driving teenagers may be lower.

I found two credible-looking sources. One is an injury law firm citing drunk driving statistics. The other is dui.com citing a Gallup survey.

Drum roll…according to the accident statistics, teenagers (16-20) accounted for 17% of drunk drivers involved in crashes. Those in the 21-24 age group accounted for 34% while those in the 25-34 age group accounted for 31%. So it would appear that the 21-24 age group is the worst (note that this range spans only 4 years, compared to 5 and 10 for the other groups).

According to Gallup, 37% of males and 18% of females between 21 and 45 have driven within two hours of drinking in 1999. People between 21 and 29 made 21% of the drunk-driving trips, although they account for 16% of the driving age population. Many of these "drunk drivers” would not be legally drunk: the average number of drinks consumed prior to driving drunk was 2.7. However (this is the scariest statistic!), drunk drivers under 21 consumed an average of 6.3 drinks before driving. Luckily, they make up only 1% of all drunk driving trips.

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