According to a recent article in the Salt Lake Tribune, deaths from drunken driving rose from 23 to 45, here in Utah.
Those 45 drunken driving deaths in 2015 accounted for nearly 18 percent of all highway fatalities, also the highest share in more than a decade.
While much attention had shifted to drug-related DUIs, deaths from drunken driving suddenly surpassed them last year — leading some officials and lawmakers to call for a renewal and expansion of efforts from education to enforcement and treatment to attack the problem.
Some of the worrisome data about drunken driving presented Wednesday include:
• Deadly drunken driving crashes in Salt Lake County more than quintupled last year, from three to 17. That was more than in the previous three years combined and resulted in 20 deaths.
• The total number of alcohol-related crashes statewide increased last year from 1,736 to 2,128, up 23 percent. That was the highest since 2008.
• In the past, about 80 percent of DUI-related deaths usually were drunken drivers themselves or their passengers. Last year, that decreased to 67 percent.
• Of the 45 fatalities from drunken driving last year, 22 were drunken drivers; eight were passengers of the drunken driver; nine were occupants of other vehicles; five were pedestrians; and one was a bicyclist.
• Seven of the 37 drunken drivers involved in fatal crashes — 19 percent — had a previous DUI conviction in the past five years.
• Besides the 45 deaths from drunken driving, four other deaths occurred in accidents where a driver had been drinking — but his or her blood alcohol level did not exceed the 0.08 legal limit. Emerson said that may lead officials to consider whether the 0.08 limit should be lowered.
Most people arrested for DUI’s are first time offenders. Increased public-awareness campaigns could help with prevention.
Emerson and Ron Gordon, executive director of the Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, called for a multi-pronged approach to combat drunken driving — everything from education campaigns to increased enforcement and more treatment for those with drinking problems.
For the entire article, visit http://www.sltrib.com/home/3088003-155/utah-drunken-driving-deaths-doubled-last-year.