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Report: Massachusetts DUI Deaths Down Sharply, But Still Too High

Drunken driving deaths in Massachusetts are reportedly down significantly, according to the latest report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In fact, the rate has dropped so sharply, it’s down by almost three times the national average.
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The NHTSA indicates of the 326 people killed in motor vehicle accidents in Massachusetts in 2013, there were 118 who lost their lives in alcohol-related crashes. That figure represents a 15 percent drop from 2012, which saw alcohol-related traffic deaths dip by 8.5 percent from the year before that.

As noted by a state lobbyist for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, while that kind of decline is encouraging and welcome, the deaths of 118 people is “nothing to celebrate.”

Our Boston DUI wrongful death lawyers recognize that still means we are losing an average of one person approximately every four days to drunk driving in this state.

While a decrease is in line with the national trend, total decline of DUI-related deaths in the U.S. is only down 2.5 percent. Total traffic deaths dropped by 3.1 percent during that time.

Still, authorities caution against trying to draw any major inferences from the drop, particularly considering there have been consistent fluctuations in the data going back the lats five year.s for example, DUI deaths were up 8.5 percent in the commonwealth in 2010. The figure then fell by 6.6 percent the following year and then shot up 13.1 percent in 2012. It was only after that we saw the 8.5 percent dip in 2013.

It’s also worth noting that while alcohol-related deaths accounted for 31 percent of traffic deaths nationally in 2013, here in Massachusetts, DUI was blamed in 36 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities.

The good news is the statewide trend of alcohol-related deaths has generally been on the decline. Statewide, there were nearly 24 percent fewer DUI-related deaths in 2013 compared to six years earlier.

There is also evidence that attitudes toward drinking-and-driving in the commonwealth are shifting. For example, the Massachusetts Health Council reported in the most recent survey, 18 percent of high school students admitted they had ridden with a drunk driver at some point in the last month. This is certainly not great news, but compare that to the response eight years ago. Back then, nearly one-third of all students answered that same question in the affirmative.

Law enforcement agencies say they remain dedicated to making eradication of drunk driving in Massachusetts a top priority. Those efforts include a series of sobriety checkpoints, as well as saturation patrols – particularly during big partying events, such as the Super Bowl.

Last year, police agencies reportedly arrested nearly 12,800 people in Massachusetts on drunk driving charges.

Traffic safety advocates are also pushing for Massachusetts legislators to pass a measure mandating interlock ignition devices for all persons convicted of DUI, rather than solely for repeat offenders, as the law now reads. There are currently about 5,300 ignition interlock devices in use in Massachusetts. The machines are affixed onto an offender’s vehicle – and his or her own expense – and measure the driver’s blood-alcohol content before the vehicle will start.

If you or someone you love has been injured a Boston drunk driving accident, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:
Drunken driving deaths in Massachusetts down since 2013, Jan. 21, 2015, Staff Report, Taunton Daily Gazette
More Blog Entries:
Man Arrested for DUI on New Years’ Eve Says Everyone Does It, Jan. 23, 2015, Boston DUI Injury Lawyer Blog