TIRF USA has conducted an annual Road Safety Monitor public opinion poll series since 2015 in partnership with TIRF in Canada and with sponsorship from the Anheuser-Busch Foundation. Each year a report is published on the prevalence of drinking and driving, reasons behind decisions to drive impaired and characteristics of the drivers. Additionally, the prevalence of impaired driving is compared to the prevalence of other risky behaviors such as distracted driving, fatigued driving, aggressive driving, and drug-impaired driving.
The 2022 fact sheet summarizes key findings regarding the prevalence of alcohol-impaired driving, reasons for engaging in this behavior and characteristics of these drivers. New work underway from TIRF’s Working Group on DWI Systems Improvements can help communities tackle this issue by implementing an impaired driving strategy based on the Safe System Approach.
The percentage of respondents reporting driving when they thought they were over the legal limit in the last 12 months decreased from 22.5% in 2021 to 19.6% in 2022. In addition, persons reporting driving impaired often or very often also decreased significantly in 2022 to 9.7% compared to 12.3% in 2021. This decline is promising and suggests a similar decrease in alcohol-related fatalities may potentially follow it. Early estimate data for 2021 from NHTSA showed a drop in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities to 8,174 despite total fatalities rising to 42,915 from 38,824 in 2021. While these data are preliminary and subject to change, it is encouraging to see progress with alcohol-impaired driving may have been made in 2021 compared to 2020.
The poll also explored reasons why this minority of drivers chose to drive when they thought they were over the legal limit. This knowledge is critical to guide prevention strategies. Notably, in the past five years, there has been a fairly steady downward trend in one of the primary reasons given by drivers, suggesting education is important for continued progress.