April 4, 2005

Drinking and driving an escalating problem worldwide, report says

Arlington, Virginia – The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has issued a special report on drinking and driving that suggests that important progress made worldwide in the 1980s and into the 1990s to reduce impaired driving has stalled and not been revived.

The report says that sharp declines in crash deaths involving alcohol-impaired drivers began to be recorded worldwide in the 1980s, but failed to continue around 1997.

Countries with large declines in alcohol-related crash deaths included Canada, Australia, Sweden, Great Britain and the United States. However, since 1997, declines have stalled and in some cases have increased. In Sweden, 18 per cent of fatally injured drivers had alcohol in their blood in 1997; in 2003, it was 29 per cent. The report suggests it is due to a decline in breath testing, and in lower alcohol taxes in line with E.U. policies. The report suggests that other countries’ increase may also be due to fewer tests and more consumption of alcohol.

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