Is Drunk Walking as Dangerous as Drunk Driving? (Hint: No)

drunk-walking-dangerousAlcohol is an equal-opportunity impairer. If you read this blog, you know how it makes you a dangerous driver. It also hinders your golfing, hampers your typing, slows down your knitting and doesn’t do wonders for your conversational ability, though you might not be aware of it while you’re talking.

It’s bad for walking too. A recent study by alcoholic.org looked at how drunk pedestrians fared on American roads. Using FARS (the USDOT’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System) the study found that, as expected, more drivers than pedestrians died in road collisions overall.

However, the rates for alcohol-related fatalities tell a different story.

The percentage of drivers who were drunk at the time of death (a blood alcohol concentration of .08 percent or more) has fallen steadily since the 1980s. In 1982, about half of the people who died were drunk; now it is less than a third (31%).

But in 1982, 45% of pedestrians killed on the roads were drunk at the time. Now it is 36%.

That’s right – a greater proportion of pedestrians being killed on the roads today are drunk than drivers killed on those roads.

The tempting headline – one already seen on the Internet and suggested in our own title – is that drunk walking is more dangerous than drunk driving. But this study does not cover one factor: passengers and those riding in other cars with sober drivers who were killed.

A drunk pedestrian can walk into a road and get killed by a car. They can also cause a car to veer off and crash into others. But that’s still no match for the mayhem that a drunk driver can cause. Piloting a steel juggernaut at highway speeds with impaired judgment can put many lives at risk at once. All too often we read of drunk drivers who manage to kill or injure not just themselves but several others because of their reckless decision.

So it’s fair to say that while alcohol might play a larger role in pedestrian deaths than in drivers’ deaths, drunk drivers have killed more people. Which is why states need to keep educating the public, mandate substance abuse treatment for repeat DUI offenders, and require ignition interlocks (car breathalyzers) for all impaired driving offenses.

There are many issues with alcohol that need addressing. It won’t help to cloud the issue by suggesting that drunk walking is more of a menace than driving a car with your senses and judgment impaired by alcohol.

A hat-tip to alcoholic.org for their report and other information on the issue.