According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the worst months for DUI fatalities are between June and September. Road safety experts point out that summer holidays like the Fourth of July and Labor Day Weekend are among the deadliest holidays for DUIs. There’s also plenty of data that suggests teens are more likely to try alcohol in the summer.
Considering how prevalent DUIs are this time of year, Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, decided to comb through local crash stats to uncover how DUIs have been impacting Jefferson County. Be sure to look through our detailed graphs below to learn how we stand versus the national averages.
FYI: all of the percentages in the following graphs are from crash reports compiled by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) between 1975 and 2018. You can find all of the data used in our study by following this NHTSA link.
Good News: DUI Fatalities Continue Steady Downtrend
Let’s start with some good news: the USA’s DUI fatality rate has dropped significantly over the past few decades. Indeed, the Insurance Information Institute recently revealed the percentage of DUI-related traffic fatalities has gone from 41 percent in 1985 to 29 percent in 2018.
Thankfully, Jefferson County appears to be following this national trend. According to our research, Jefferson County had its highest level of DUI-related fatalities in the early 1990s when about 50 percent of total traffic deaths were DUI-related. Since that time, our DUI fatality percentage has decreased to 22 percent between 2016 and 2018.
Over the same time, Kentucky’s DUI fatalities followed a similar trajectory. Instead of spiking in the early 1990s, however, Kentucky recorded its highest DUI fatality percentages in the mid-1980s. Today, DUI fatalities make up about 25 percent of the state’s total traffic deaths.
There’s no clear explanation of why DUI fatalities have dropped as overall traffic fatalities remain relatively unchanged. Some road safety experts believe the rise in ride-sharing services might be partially responsible for this downward trend. Other possible theories include robust public health campaigns and advances in car safety technology.
Danger In The Darkness: What’s The Worst Time For DUIs?
Although DUI fatalities have been decreasing, that doesn’t mean they’re non-existent. Indeed, our research suggests there are a few hours when sober motorists need to be extra cautious.
In Jefferson County, late night and early morning hours had the highest percentage of deadly DUI crashes. At 7 PM, roughly 20 percent of car crash fatalities involved DUI. That percentage continued rising as the night progressed and reached a peak of over 60 percent between 3 AM – 4 AM.
This finding is consistent with US DOT data that suggests the highest percentage of fatal DUI crashes happen between 12 AM – 3 AM. Well over 60 percent of total crashes during this period were from DUIs. Another study published by Consumer Reports suggested that most fatal DUIs happen between 2 AM – 3 AM.
Considering most bars have to close shop at 2 AM, it’s understandable why these hours have elevated DUI stats. Unfortunately, it seems that many of these late-night pub patrons hit the roads moments after bars shut their doors.
FYI: Kentucky’s “last call” is currently set at 2 AM statewide. There are, however, a few bars that can remain open till 4 AM in Louisville.
The Demographics Of DUI: Who Is Dying In Jefferson County Crashes?
To better understand who is most at risk of a DUI fatality, our analysts took a closer look at the age and gender of crash victims. Below are a few of our key findings.
Jefferson County Men Are More Likely To Die In DUI
On average, men are more likely than women to be involved in fatal DUI crashes. Indeed, the NHTSA says that for every four male drivers, there’s only one female driver caught DUI. Other statistics suggest men between the ages of 21 – 34 cause over 30 percent of all DUI crashes.
With this in mind, it’s no surprise that men in Jefferson County have elevated DUI fatality rates. In recent years, however, the fatality gap between the genders has narrowed quite a bit.
In the late 1970s, over 20 men were killed in DUI crashes in Jefferson County per year versus less than ten females. From that point onward, the number of women killed in DUIs per year has remained well under ten victims per year. Although the number of male DUI fatalities has fluctuated over the decades, it has decreased to an average of eight deaths per year by 2018. So, at this point, both male and female DUI-related fatalities in Jefferson County are almost equal.
To get a clearer sense of this data, our analysts also looked into the local, state, and national percentages of male DUI fatalities. From the 1980s onward, between 70 – 80 percent of DUI-related deaths in Jefferson County were male. In more recent years, however, this number took a surprising dip. Between 2016 and 2018, the average rate of male DUI fatalities dropped to 55 percent.
Compared with national and statewide statistics, this 55 percent figure is unheard of. Indeed, from 1977 till 2018, the average percentage of men killed in DUI crashes nationwide and in Kentucky has remained relatively steady at between 75 – 80 percent.
The Average Age Of DUI Victims Continues To Increase
Interestingly, the average age of DUI fatalities in Jefferson County appears to be rising. Between 1978 and 1985, the median age of DUI crash victims was at or below 30. From that point onwards, however, this age has never gone below 30, and it almost reached 40 in 2013. Today, the average age of a fatal DUI crash victim in Jefferson County is just under 35.
After examining this data, we plotted Jefferson County’s statistics against national and statewide averages. According to our findings, Jefferson County is not an outlier in this case. The median ages of DUI fatalities in Kentucky and the USA went from 29 in 1977 to between 35 – 36 in 2018.
Hit By A Drunk Driver? Get The Tiger!
Coming up on a holiday weekend, you might have socially distanced backyard cookouts planned. While you are being mindful of Covid-19, remember to be mindful of safe drinking practices. Never drink and drive. If you are going to drink, designate a sober driver or call an Uber. As you’re driving around while others are celebrating, remember that not everyone practices safe driving habits.
If you or a loved one gets involved in a DUI crash, then you should know Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, can help you navigate the complex legal hurdles. Our expert team of attorneys has years of experience fighting on behalf of DUI crash victims and their families. With the tiger on your side, you will get every penny you’re deserved.