Crash Facts

Pennsylvania DUI Association

Alcohol-Related Crashes

2017 Crash Facts – Click for a complete copy of the Crash Facts

Alcohol Overview

▶ In Pennsylvania, drinking and driving remains a top safety issue. In 2017, alcohol-related crashes increased to 10,346 from 10,256 alcohol-related crashes in 2016. In 2017, alcohol-related fatalities decreased to 293 from 297 in 2016.

▶ Of particular concern is the involvement of drinking drivers under the age of 21. 18% of the driver fatalities in the 16-20 age group were drinking drivers, up from 12% in 2016. Improvement in this age group is a very important need.

▶ Of equal focus is the 21 to 25 age group, in which 31% of the driver fatalities were drinking drivers. This age group had the third worst percentage of all groups, and was up from 29% in 2016. The 26 to 30 age group decreased to 42% from 32% in 2016.

▶ In 2017, alcohol-related deaths were 26% of the total traffic deaths, less than in 2013, 2014 and 2015.

▶ Pennsylvania continues to take an aggressive posture to prevent and deter drinking and driving (particularly through the widespread use of sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols).

2017 Briefs

▶ 293 people died in alcohol-related crashes.

▶ 88% of the alcohol-related occupant fatalities (drivers and passengers) were in the vehicle driven by the drinking driver; 76% were the drinking drivers themselves.

▶ 74% of the drinking drivers in traffic crashes were male.

▶ 71% of the alcohol-related crashes were during the hours of darkness, usually on weekends.

▶ On average each day, 28 alcohol-related traffic crashes occurred.

▶ On average each day, 0.8 persons were fatally injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes.

▶ On average each day, 18 persons were injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes.

Alcohol Involvement in Crashes

Although alcohol-related crashes accounted for approximately 8% of the total crashes in 2017, they resulted in 26% of all persons fatally injured in crashes. Alcohol-related crashes were 4.0 times more likely to result in fatal injury than those not related to alcohol (3.0% of the alcohol-related crashes resulted in fatal injury, compared to 0.7% of crashes which were not alcohol-related). “PDO Crashes” in the table below refers to property damage only crashes.

  Fatal Crashes Deaths Injury Crashes Injuries PDO Crashes
Alcohol-Related    280 (25.9%)    293 (25.8%) 4,908 (8.4%) 6,565 (8.1%) 5,158 (7.5%)
Non-Alcohol Related    803 (74.2%)    844 (74.2%) 53,297 (91.6%) 74,085 (91.9%) 63,726 (92.5%)
Total 1,083 (100.0%) 1,137 (100.0%) 58,205 (100.0%) 80,650 (100.0%) 68,884 (100.0%)

Alcohol-Related Crashes—Five-Year Trends

Alcohol-related crashes increased in 2017, and were the second lowest total in the last five years. Alcohol-related fatalities increased in 2017, and were the second lowest total in the last five years. Alcohol-related fatalities are trending downward.

2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
Crashes 11,041 10,550 10,558 10,256 10,346
  Fatal Crashes 363 311 321 270 280
  Injury Crashes 5,864 5,377 5,274 4,911 4,908
   PDO Crashes 4,814 4,862 4,963 5,075 5,158
Deaths 381 333 345 297 293
Injuries 7,900 7,265 7,055 6,589 6,565
Fatal Crashes per 100,000 Licensed Drivers 4.1 3.5 3.6 3.0 3.1
Deaths per 100,000 Licensed Drivers 4.3 3.7 3.9 3.3 3.3

Victims of Alcohol-Related Fatal Crashes

There were 240 driver and passenger fatalities in alcohol-related crashes in 2017, while 211 (88%) were the drinking drivers or their passengers.

Persons Involved Deaths
Drivers 204
  Drinking Drivers176  (89.2%)
  Non-Drinking Drivers  22 (10.8%)
Passengers 36
  Passengers with Drinking Driver 29 (80.6%)
 Passengers with Non-Drinking Driver 7 (19.4%)
Pedestrians 45
  Drinking Pedestrian 31 (68.9%)
  Non-Drinking Pedestrian 14 (31.1%)
TOTAL DEATHS 293

Victims of Fatal Crashes by Time of Day

Alcohol-related crashes occurring between 8:00 PM and 4:00 AM produced the vast majority of deaths (63% of alcohol-related deaths). In contrast, under half of the deaths (45%) from non-alcohol-related crashes resulted from crashes occurring between noon and 8:00 PM.

Time of Occurrence Non-Alcohol Related Alcohol Related
Midnight-3:59 AM   76 103
4:00-7:59 AM   99   23
8:00-11:59 AM 128     5
Noon-3:59 PM 228   26
4:00-7:59 PM 189   57
8:00-11:59 PM 124   79
Time Unknown     0     0
TOTAL DEATHS 891 297

Victims of Fatal Crashes by Day of Week

Just under half (49%) of alcohol-related fatal crash victims were the result of crashes occurring on Saturday and Sunday, while fatal crash victims of non-alcohol-related crashes tended to be distributed more evenly throughout the work week with the fewest occurring on Thursday and Saturday

Day of Occurrence Non-Alcohol-Related Alcohol-Related
Monday 115  19
Tuesday 131  37
Wednesday 107  24
Thursday 120  34
Friday 131  50
Saturday 114  74
Sunday  126  55
TOTAL DEATHS 844 293

Alcohol-Related Crashes—Day vs. Night

71.0% of alcohol-related crashes occurred at night.

Alcohol-Related Holiday Crashes

In 2017, 12% of all holiday crashes involved alcohol use; however, 37% of deaths which occurred during holiday weekends were related to alcohol use.

Period Crashes Deaths
New Years 83 1
Post New Years 119 7
Pre-Memorial Day 118 3
Memorial Day 123 1
Post Memorial Day 113 3
Pre-Independence Day 27 3
Independence Day 47 4
Post-Independence Day 20 2
Pre-Labor Day 117 5
Labor Day 153 3
Post-Labor Day 123 5
Pre-Thanksgiving 164 2
Thanksgiving 161 5
Post-Thanksgiving 155 3
Pre-Christmas 141 3
Christma9 161 3
TOTAL 1,825 53

Driver Involvement in Alcohol-Related Crashes by Vehicle Type

Motorcyclists had the largest percentage of drinking drivers to total drivers compared to the drivers of other types of vehicles. Drinking drivers of passenger cars, light trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles were equal to or just above the average for drivers of all vehicle types. Bus and heavy truck drivers accounted for very few of the drinking drivers in crashes.

Total Drivers in Crashes – 210,790

Passenger Cars 116,824
Lt Trk/SUV/Van 81,233
Heavy Truck 7,262
Motorcycle 3,268
Bus 861
Other 1,342

Drinking Drivers in Crashes -10,133 (4.8% of total)

Passenger Cars 5,834 5.0% of total
Lt Trk/SUV/Van 3,890 4.8% of total
Heavy Truck 48 0.7% of total
Motorcycle 299 9.1% of total
Bus 2 0.2% of total
Other 60 4.5% of total

 

Drinking Drivers in Crashes by Age and Sex

In 2017, roughly 3 out of 4 drinking drivers in crashes were male (across most age groups), with only slight variations among the age groups. The table below does not include an additional 57 drivers for whom age and/or sex were not known.

Age Group Male Female Total
Under 16 4 1 5
16-20 417 119 536
21-25 1,576 527 2,103
26-30 1,231 501 1,732
31-35 845 333 1,178
36-40 692 260 952
41-45 578 238 816
46-50 591 227 818
51-55 541 170 711
56-60 442 129 571
61-65 271 78 349
66-70 145 27 172
71-75 57 16 73
Over 75 47 13 60
Total 7,437 2,639 10,076

 

Drinking Drivers vs. Non-Drinking Drivers Involved in Crashes by Age Group

In 2017, as the table below shows, the two age groups from 21 to 30 had the highest percentage of drinking drivers within their respective age groups. After age 40, the percentage of drinking drivers within the succeeding age groups steadily declined. The Under 16 age group continues to be of particular concern, as it included 6 drinking drivers.

Age Group Drinking Driver   Non-Drinking Driver
Under 16 6 4.4% 131 95.6%
16-20 536 2.2% 23,411 97.8%
21-25 2,104 7.2% 27,126 92.8%
26-30 1,732 7.0% 23,174 93.1%
31-35 1,182 5.9% 18,883 94.1%
36-40 954 5.7% 15,799 94.3%
41-45 816 5.4% 14,185 94.6%
46-50 818 5.3% 14,619 94.7%
51-55 711 4.7% 14,539 95.3%
56-60 571 4.1% 13,321 95.9%
Over 60 656 2.1% 31,408 98.0%

 

Drinking Driver Deaths as a Percentage of Total Driver Deaths, by Age Group

The table below shows drinking driver fatalities as a percentage of total driver fatalities within each respective age group for 2017 crashes. The age group from 26 to 30 had the highest percentage, with 42% of the driver fatalities in this age group being a drinking driver. The 16-20 age group increased from 12.0% in 2016. In 2017, there were no drivers under the age of 16 who chose to combine alcohol usage and driving without a license.

Age Group Percentage of Total Driver Deaths
Under 16 0.0%
16-20 17.9%
21-25 20.5%
26-30 41.9%
31-35 29.0%
36-40 20.4%
41-45 33.3%
46-50 23.0%
51-55 27.9%
56-60 22.6%
61-65 13.7%
66-70 16.1%
71-75 12.5%
Over 75 1.9%

 

Underage Drinking Drivers in Pennsylvania Crashes—Historical Data

Act 31, commonly known as the “Underage Drinking Law,” went into effect on May 24, 1988. From that year, and until 1994, the number of underage drinking drivers involved in Pennsylvania crashes declined each year. From 1997 until 2002, the amount of underage drinking drivers remained consistently high. From that point until 2015 there has been a downward trend with 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2016 disrupting the steady decrease.

Year Underage Drinking Drivers in PA Crashes
2008 1,239
2009 1,294
2010 1,265
2011 943
2012 954
2013 782
2014 672
2015 585
2016 613
2017 542