Drunk-Driving Deaths in U.S. Regularly Go Unreported
A recently released study shows that in the United States, traffic deaths resulting from drunk driving often fail to be reported.
The study, published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, compared the U.S. government's data on blood-alcohol levels of those killed in traffic accidents with death certificates from all 50 states. Researchers found that between 1999 and 2009, 21% of people killed in fatal traffic accidents were legally intoxicated, but only about 3% of death certificates listed alcohol as a contributing factor in those crashes.
The sluggish turnaround of test results may be to blame for this discrepancy. The researchers determined that alcohol is often absent from death certificates due to long time it can take to receive results from a blood-alcohol test. Death certificates are usually filed within three to five days, however test results may take longer than that.
The researchers also found that many drivers killed in traffic accidents never even have their blood-alcohol levels tested—currently about half of U.S. states require these tests. Throughout the United States, only 70% of drivers undergo blood-alcohol tests in the case of a traffic fatality. It's crucial that this type of data on the causes of fatal traffic accidents become accurate so that Americans can know just how big the problem of drunk driving is.
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