TIRF USA Road Safety Monitor 2021: Alcohol-impaired driving and COVID-19 in the United States
See link in press release to download TIRF USA RSM Fact Sheet
WASHINGTON, Dec. 29 Feb. 20, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The Traffic Injury Research Foundation USA, Inc. (TIRF USA), in partnership with TIRF in Canada and with sponsorship from the Anheuser-Busch Foundation, released the seventh annual Road Safety Survey (RSM) on alcohol-impaired driving. The survey takes the nation’s pulse on the issue of drinking and driving through an online survey of a random, representative sample of American drivers aged 21 or older. A total of 1,498 drivers responded to the survey in September 2021. This fact sheet summarizes the key findings regarding the prevalence of alcohol-impaired driving, the reasons for this behavior and the characteristics of these drivers. The results of the survey are compared with data from previous years. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this RSM also describes the effects of the pandemic on risky driving behaviors.
“In general, all dangerous driving behaviors were reported more often in 2021 than in 2020,” noted Carl Wicklund, TIRF USA’s senior research advisor. “While most drivers exercised increased caution and were less likely to engage in certain risky driving behaviors during the pandemic, a smaller but significant proportion of drivers indicated that they were more likely to engage in certain risky driving behaviors during the pandemic. This helps explain preliminary data showing an increase in speeding, impaired driving and more serious crashes as a result of the pandemic.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the overall fatality rate decreased from 2016 to 2019 before increasing in 2020. The fatalities also represented the lowest percentage of all driving fatalities in 2019 since data on alcohol were first collected in 1982. More worryingly, preliminary data for the first half of 2021 showed a 13.0% increase in vehicle-kilometres traveled (VMT) compared to the first half of 2020, yet the VMT mortality rate increased by 18.4%.
The RSM results also show that nearly three in five US drivers (59%) said they were very or extremely concerned about the pandemic. In comparison, 65% of American drivers indicated that they were very or extremely concerned about driving while impaired by alcohol. Additionally, 78% of US drivers agreed that alcohol-impaired driving was a serious problem.
“Despite this high level of concern about alcohol-impaired driving, more U.S. drivers reported driving often when they thought they were over the legal limit in 2021 than in 2019,” says Ward Vanlaar, director of the of FRBR Canada and lead author of the study. “It is concerning that the main reason drivers report this behavior was because they thought they could drive, suggesting that they do not understand the adverse effects of alcohol on driving or the risk that they represent for themselves and other drivers on the road.” While the poll also found that 7.4% of US drivers thought there was no alternative to driving, up from 11.9% in 2020, there was a slight increase in drivers who thought there was no alternative to driving. they wouldn’t get caught (10.4% in 2021 versus 9.1% in 2020).
Yet in 2021, three out of four respondents (75.9%) indicated that they had been a designated driver, used a designated driver, used a taxi or public transport or carpooled (75.7% in 2020). However, this is a notable decrease from 82.3% in 2019. “A fear of exposure to the COVID-19 virus through close contact may have affected the use of safe journeys, the use of transport ridesharing and carpooling has decreased during the pandemic,” says Vanlar. “Either way, it’s imperative that people understand that using safe rides is still a safer option than choosing to drive while impaired.”
In addition to this reluctance to use shared travel modes, other impacts of the pandemic on driver behavior continued into 2021. Survey results comparing behavior during the pandemic to behavior before the pandemic show:
10.5% of drivers said they were more likely to drive within two hours of drinking
11.7% said they were more likely to speed excessively during the pandemic
more than 8% were more likely to drive distracted, drive within two hours of drug use, and not wear a seatbelt
The full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on road safety has yet to be revealed, but its effects on drink-driving are alarming according to the results of this survey. “Most concerning are the results showing that men aged 21 to 29 represent the highest percentage of drunk drivers,” warns Wicklund. “They most often do this because they think they might still be ‘okay’ to get behind the wheel of a car. Continued enforcement and increased awareness are needed to curb this trend.
Survey demonstrates that law enforcement strategies aimed at reducing and preventing alcohol-impaired driving need to be tailored accordingly, as a small but notable proportion of drivers were more likely to drive while impaired . This may be a new group of drivers who did not engage in this behavior before, the same group of drivers who have become even more prone to driving while impaired by alcohol, or a combination of the two. . As an increasing number of resources are 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 problem, particularly in light of the current road safety climate.
About the survey
These results are based on the 2021 TIRF USA RSM, an annual public opinion survey developed and conducted by TIRF USA, in partnership with TIRF in Canada. A total of 1,498 drivers in the United States completed the survey as of September 2021 (results can be considered plus or minus 2.5% accurate, 19 times out of 20). Data were stratified and weighted by sex, age and region. The majority of questions were answered using a scale of one to six where six indicated high agreement, concern, or support and one indicated low agreement, concern, or support, along with many yes questions. /no. All respondents completed the online survey.
About FRBR USA
The mission of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation USA, Inc. (TIRF USA) is to develop and share lifesaving knowledge – preventing injuries and loss of life on America’s roads, reducing social, health and related insurance and maintaining productivity. TIRF USA is an independent traffic safety research institute that obtained 501(c)3 non-profit status in the United States in 2014 and is affiliated through an exchange of services agreement with TIRF in Canada, established in 1964. Visit us online at www.tirf.us Where twitter.com/tirfusainc
About the Anheuser-Busch Foundation
Established in 1975, the Anheuser-Busch Foundation is focused on supporting organizations that help individuals and communities thrive. The Foundation contributes annually to countless community organizations supporting disaster preparedness and relief, economic development, education, environmental sustainability, military personnel, and responsible drinking. Anheuser-Busch and its foundation are united by an unwavering commitment to supporting the communities they call home and over the past 30 years, Anheuser-Busch and the Anheuser-Busch Foundation have donated more than $600 million to charities across the country. For more information, visit www.anheuser-busch.com.
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