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Alcohol-Impaired Driving Drops Overall, But Remains High Among Young Men

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Rates of alcohol-impaired driving have dropped 30 percent since 2006, according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Drunk driving rates remain high among young men, binge drinkers and people who don’t always wear a seatbelt.

There were an estimated 112 million drunk-driving incidents in 2010, or an average of 300,000 per day, according to HealthDay. Drunk driving accounts for almost 11,000 traffic fatalities annually, about one-third of the total.

“Drunk driving is a public health problem with far-reaching effects,” Linda C. Degutis, Dr.P.H., M.S.N., Director of CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, said in a news release. “Drunk drivers, who have delayed reaction times and reflexes, put even the most responsible drivers and pedestrians in harm’s way.”

CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said the recession may account for some of the drop in drunk driving, since more people are drinking at home instead of driving to restaurants or bars. He noted the CDC’s numbers about drunk driving come from the drivers themselves, so the actual numbers are probably higher.

Men account for 81 percent of drunk drivers, the CDC found. While men ages 21 to 34 make up 11 percent of the population, they account for 32 percent of drunk drivers. In addition, the study found 85 percent of adults who admitted to drinking and driving said they binge drink. People who reported not wearing a seatbelt were four times as likely to be involved in a drunk driving incident.

The CDC recommended a variety of strategies to reduce drunk driving, including sobriety checkpoints, keeping the minimum drinking age at 21 in all states, and requiring convicted drunk drivers to use ignition interlocks that prevent the car from starting if they have been drinking.

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