At an event on Wednesday, Aug. 19, kicking off a nationwide anti-drunk driving enforcement campaign, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released a new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that shows an increasing trend among women driving under the influence of alcohol.
The new analysis is based on an increase in the number of alcohol-impaired female drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2008 compared to the 2007 statistics. “Impaired driving is an issue that cuts across all segments of society, and sadly, the number of arrests of women driving under the influence is on the rise,” LaHood says. “This is clearly a very disturbing trend.”
LaHood pointed to statistics from the FBI showing that arrests for women driving under the influence increased by 28.8 percent over the 10-year period from 1998 to 2007. Over that same decade, DUI arrests for men decreased by 7.5 percent, although the total number of men arrested during the period outstripped women by about four to one.
The NHTSA study confirmed the FBI statistics showing that impaired driving by women is becoming a national safety issue. According to the NHTSA analysis, the number of impaired women drivers involved in fatal crashes increased in 10 states and remained flat in five states, despite an overall decline of 9 percent in all drunk driver crashes in 2008 from 2007. Overall, about 2,000 fatalities a year involve an impaired female driver.
The 10 states with increases in the number of drunk female drivers involved in fatal crashes are Ohio, New Hampshire, Montana, Nevada, Wyoming, West Virginia, Indiana, Washington, Kansas and Tennessee. The five states where the number of alcohol-impaired female drivers remained unchanged in 2008 were Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Oklahoma and Utah.
The nationwide anti-drunk driving enforcement campaign targets drivers in the final weeks of summer before and during the Labor Day holiday weekend. The annual crackdown is intended to reduce the tragic toll caused by impaired drivers, nearly 12,000 fatalities in 2008.
The “Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest” campaign — which will involve 11,000 police departments and other law enforcement agencies across the nation — runs from Friday, Aug. 21, through the Labor Day weekend. Police will be redoubling their efforts during this high-risk travel period to ensure that impaired drivers are detected and arrested. Over the Labor Day weekend last year, 40 percent of all fatal crashes involved a drunk driver.
The American Trucking Associations commended DOT for conducting the campaign. “We’re thankful for the Department of Transportation’s leadership on this very serious issue,” says Bill Graves, ATA president and chief executive officer. “Drunk driving is a preventable problem that compromises the safety of all motorists sharing the road.”