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 2020 fact sheet summarizes key findings regarding the prevalence of alcohol-impaired driving, reasons for engaging in this behavior and characteristics of these drivers. Survey results are compared to data from previous years. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this RSM also describes the effects of the pandemic on risky driving behaviors.
The percentage of respondents reporting driving when they thought they were over the legal limit in the last 12 months decreased significantly from 20% in 2019 to 16.6% in 2020. This reduction may indicate a greater awareness of the impairing effects of alcohol. Results of this RSM also show concern about alcohol-impaired driving remained high and was equal to concern about the COVID-19 pandemic. Regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on driver behavior, while most drivers didn’t change their behavior or were less likely to take risks during the pandemic, a small proportion of drivers indicated they were more likely to engage in risky behavior. As an increasing amount of resources are being focused on the health of Americans during the pandemic, targeted education and enforcement efforts to reduce and prevent impaired driving are essential to lessen the burden of the issue, especially in light of the current road safety climate.