It is no secret that drunk driving accidents cause a large number of catastrophic injuries and deaths each year. The typical elements of a drunk driving crash, such as the likelihood of an intoxicated driver speeding, make these collisions difficult to survive. While there is a common belief that a drunk driver is more likely to survive an accident than victims, there is not a lot of data to back this up. The fact is that drunk driving accidents can be deadly for anyone, sober or intoxicated.
Fatal Drunk Driving Accident Statistics
Driving under the influence (DUI) is a deadly mistake that is behind thousands of serious injuries and fatalities in the United States each year. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that in 2020, 11,654 people lost their lives in alcohol-related traffic accidents. This equates to about 32 people per day or 1 person every 45 minutes. These numbers include many fatally injured drunk drivers.
About the Myth of Drunk Driver Accident Survival
Despite the common misconception, drunk drivers are not impervious to suffering fatal injuries in the car accidents that they cause. The idea that drunk drivers are less likely to die in accidents took root in the 1980s, when a hospital in Texas released preliminary findings on a study of intoxicated drivers vs. their victims. In the following decades, however, conflicting research was released – including studies that found that drunk drivers actually suffer a higher fatality rate than others involved in these crashes.
The answer to whether drunk drivers are less likely to suffer critical injuries in a collision depends on who you ask. Paramedics, for example, have noted the phenomenon of arriving at the scene of DUI accidents and seeing gruesome and fatal injuries…except for the drunk driver, who escaped relatively unscathed. There is a hypothesis that this is due to the difference in how a drunk driver holds his or her body in a crash compared to a sober person.
This theory states that due to their intoxicated state, drunk drivers do not prepare or tense their bodies for the impact. The time between the brain recognizing a crash risk and the body reacting is delayed to an intoxicated person. Sober individuals, on the other hand, constrict their muscles and brace for an impact, which can increase the risk of serious injuries. Remaining loose and relaxed could contribute to the reduced injury severity sometimes noted in drunk drivers.
The Reality: DUI Accidents Are Universally Deadly
It has not been definitively proven that drunk drivers survive vehicle collisions more often than their victims. What the data does show is that thousands of individuals – including alcohol-impaired drivers – die in drunk driving accidents every year. The best way to prevent these fatalities is to never drink and drive. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs drastically increases the risk of getting into a collision and causing life-changing injuries not only to yourself but to innocent bystanders, as well. Even if you survive the crash, you will have to live with the damage and suffering that you caused.
Injured in a Collision With a Drunk Driver? Here’s What to Do
If you get injured in an accident involving a drunk or drugged driver in Kansas City, you can hold the driver and his or her insurance company responsible. Filing an insurance claim or lawsuit against a drunk driver could result in a payout for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, property repairs, and other damages. It can also bring you a measure of justice and closure by holding the intoxicated driver accountable for your wreck.
If you tragically lost a loved one in a fatal drunk driving crash, your family could file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. You can also cooperate with the police on bringing a criminal case against the drunk driver for causing your serious or fatal car accident. For more information about your legal rights after a drunk driving crash, contact a Kansas City car accident attorney at Dickerson Oxton to request a free case consultation.