Drunken-driving deaths in Md. said to fall in 2007

August 29, 2008|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,michael.dresser@balltsun.com

Maryland was one of 32 states to post decreases last year in the number of driving fatalities caused by drunken drivers, according to a report released yesterday by the federal government.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said Maryland posted a 5.3 percent decrease in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. Nationally, there was a 3.7 percent decline.

In all, the state had 10 fewer drunken-driving deaths in 2007 - 179 - than in 2006. Across the nation, there were almost 500 fewer deaths in crashes involving drivers with blood-alcohol levels of 0.08 percent or more - 12,998 - than in 2006.

According to the traffic safety agency, the national rate of drunken-driving deaths fell to 0.43 per 100 million miles of vehicle travel - a new low.

The only category of drivers to show an increased involvement in drunken-driving deaths nationally was motorcycle riders, who registered 10 percent more deaths in 2007 than in 2006. Maryland reflected the national trend, with 25 motorcycle deaths in 2007, compared with 23 the previous year.

Nationally, motorcycles accounted for 9 percent of the vehicles on the road but 12 percent of the drunken-driving fatalities.

The overall decline in alcohol-impaired fatalities was driven by a substantial 16 percent decrease among women. Men, who make up about 80 percent of the victims of drunken driving, showed a 1.4 percent decrease, which the agency called "marginal."

Maryland was far from the best - or the worst - in reducing drunken driving deaths in 2007. North Carolina had 66 more deaths than the previous year, while California had 266 fewer.

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