Crash Facts

Pennsylvania DUI Association

Alcohol-Related Crashes

2021 Crash Facts – Click for a complete copy of the Crash Facts

Alcohol Overview

▶ In Pennsylvania, drinking and driving remains a top safety issue. In 2021, alcohol-related crashes increased to 9,220 from 7,700 alcohol-related crashes in 2020. In 2021, alcohol-related fatalities increased to 311 from 293 in 2020.

▶ Of particular concern is the involvement of drinking drivers under the age of 21. 18% of the driver fatalities in the 16-20 age group were drinking drivers, up from 17% in 2020. Improvement in this age group is a very important need.

▶ Of equal focus is the 26 to 30 age group, in which 46% of the driver fatalities were drinking drivers. This age group had the worst percentage of all groups, and was up from 36% in 2020. The 51 to 55 age group increased to 39% from 28% in 2020.

▶ In 2021, alcohol-related deaths were 25% of the total traffic fatalities.

2021 Briefs

▶ 311 people died in alcohol-related crashes.

▶ 94% of the alcohol-related occupant fatalities (drivers and passengers) were in the vehicle driven by the drinking driver; 79% were the drinking drivers themselves.

▶ 73% of the drinking drivers in traffic crashes were male.

▶ 71% of the alcohol-related crashes were during the hours of darkness, usually on weekends.

▶ On average each day, 25 alcohol-related traffic crashes occurred.

▶ On average each day, 0.9 persons were fatally injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes.

▶ On average each day, 16 persons were injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes.

Alcohol Involvement in Crashes

Although alcohol-related crashes accounted for approximately 8% of the total crashes in 2021, they resulted in 25% of all persons fatally injured in crashes. Alcohol-related crashes were 4.0 times more likely to result in fatal injury than those not related to alcohol (3.2% of the alcohol-related crashes resulted in fatal injury, compared to 0.8% of crashes which were not alcohol-related). “PDO Crashes” in the table below refers to property damage only crashes.

 

  Fatal Crashes Fatalities Injury Crashes Injuries PDO Crashes
Alcohol-Related    293 (25.4%)    311 (25.3%) 4,349 (8.6%) 5,837 (8.4%) 4,578 (6.9%)
Non-Alcohol Related    860 (74.6%)    919 (74.7%) 46,334 (91.4%) 63,766 (91.6%) 61,458 (93.1%)
Total 1,153 (100.0%) 1,230 (100.0%) 50,683 (100.0%) 69,603 (100.0%) 66,063 (100.0%)

 

Alcohol-Related Crashes—Five-Year Trends

Alcohol-related crashes increased in 2021, and were the second lowest total in the last five years. Alcohol-related fatalities increased in 2021, and were the second highest total in the last five years. 

2017 2018 2019 2020 2021
Crashes 10,346 9,811 9,390 7,700 9,220
  Fatal Crashes 280 307 280 270 293
  Injury Crashes 4,908 4,665 4,490 3,701 4,349
   PDO Crashes 5,158 4,839 4,620 3,729 4,578
Fatalities 293 331 299 293 311
Injuries 6,565 6,227 5,938 4,917 5,837
Fatal Crashes per 100,000 Licensed Drivers 3.0 3.1 3.4 3.1 3.2
Deaths per 100,000 Licensed Drivers 3.3 3.3 3.7 3.3 3.4

Victims of Alcohol-Related Fatal Crashes

There were 255 driver and passenger fatalities in alcohol-related crashes in 2021, while 239 (94%) were the drinking drivers or their passengers.

Persons Involved Deaths
Drivers 214
  Drinking Drivers  202 (94.4%)
  Non-Drinking Drivers     12 (5.6%)
Passengers 41
  Passengers with Drinking Driver 37 (90.2%)
 Passengers with Non-Drinking Driver   4 (9.8%)
Pedestrians 53
  Drinking Pedestrian 45 (84.9%)
  Non-Drinking Pedestrian   8 (15.1%)
TOTAL DEATHS 311

Victims of Fatal Crashes by Time of Day

Alcohol-related crashes occurring between 8:00 PM and 4:00 AM produced the vast majority of deaths (62% of alcohol-related deaths). In contrast, under half of the fatalities (47%) from non-alcohol-related crashes resulted from crashes occurring between noon and 8:00 PM.

Time of Occurrence Non-Alcohol Related Alcohol Related
Midnight-3:59 AM   67    87
4:00-7:59 AM  110    26
8:00-11:59 AM 152      8
Noon-3:59 PM 220    15
4:00-7:59 PM 209    68
8:00-11:59 PM 161   107
Time Unknown     0     0
TOTAL DEATHS 919 311

Victims of Fatal Crashes by Day of Week

Nearly two-thirds (63%) of alcohol-related fatal crash victims were the result of crashes occurring on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, while fatal crash victims of non-alcohol-related crashes tended to be distributed more evenly throughout the work week with the fewest occurring on Sunday and Monday.

Day of Occurrence Non-Alcohol-Related Alcohol-Related
Monday 122  41
Tuesday 127  20
Wednesday 124  29
Thursday 132  25
Friday 164  62
Saturday 130  67
Sunday 120  67
TOTAL DEATHS 919 311

Alcohol-Related Crashes—Day vs. Night

71.0% of alcohol-related crashes occurred at night.

Alcohol-Related Holiday Crashes

In 2021, 11% of all holiday crashes involved alcohol use; however, 34% of that occurred during holiday weekends were related to alcohol use.

Period Crashes Deaths
New Years   79 4
Post New Years 107 9
Pre-Memorial Day 105 3
Memorial Day 135 3
Post Memorial Day 121 7
Pre-Independence Day 125 9
Independence Day 128 6
Post-Independence Day 97 5
Pre-Labor Day 117 3
Labor Day 106 4
Post-Labor Day 116 3
Pre-Thanksgiving 151 4
Thanksgiving 140 1
Post-Thanksgiving 130 2
Pre-Christmas 162 7
Christmas 111 6
TOTAL 1,930 76

Driver Involvement in Alcohol-Related Crashes by Vehicle Type

Motorcyclists had the largest percentage of drinking drivers to total drivers; this is compared to the drivers of other types of vehicles. Drinking drivers of passenger cars, light trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles were equal to the average for drivers of all vehicle types. Bus and heavy truck drivers accounted for very few of the drinking drivers in crashes.

Total Drivers in Crashes – 190,904

Passenger Cars 96,329
Lt Trk/SUV/Van 80,868
Heavy Truck 7,715
Motorcycle 3,671
Bus 644
Other 1,677

 

Drinking Drivers in Crashes – 9,082 (4.8% of total)

Passenger Cars 4,983 5.2% of total
Lt Trk/SUV/Van 3,659 4.5% of total
Heavy Truck 66 0.9% of total
Motorcycle    297 8.1% of total
Bus 1 0.2% of total
Other     76 4.5% of total

 

Drinking Drivers in Crashes by Age and Sex

In 2021, roughly 3 out of 4 drinking drivers in crashes were male (across most age groups), with only slight variations among the age groups. The table below does not include an additional 63 drivers for whom age and/or sex were not known.

Age Group Male Female Total
Under 16      1     1 2
16-20 359 125 484
21-25 1,146 395 1,541
26-30 1,051 450 1,501
31-35 905 368 1,273
36-40 713 314 1,027
41-45 563 206 769
46-50 459 176 635
51-55 447 153 600
56-60 407 121 528
61-65 260 68 328
66-70 146 45 191
71-75 74 17 91
Over 75 34 15 49
Total 6,565 2,454 9,019

 

Drinking Drivers vs. Non-Drinking Drivers Involved in Crashes by Age Group

In 2021, as the table below shows, the two age groups from 26 to 35 had the highest percentage of drinking drivers within their respective age groups. After age 30, the percentage of drinking drivers within the succeeding age groups steadily declined. The Under 16 age group continues to be of particular concern, as it included 2 drinking drivers.

Age Group Drinking Driver   Non-Drinking Driver
Under 16      2 1.0% 196 99.0%
16-20    484 2.1% 22,383 97.9%
21-25 1,544 6.1% 23,666 93.9%
26-30 1,504 6.7% 21,047 93.3%
31-35 1,277 6.6% 18,126 93.4%
36-40 1,031 6.3% 15,257 93.7%
41-45 770 5.7% 12,796 94.3%
46-50 637 5.2% 11,552 94.8%
51-55 601 4.9% 11,640 95.1%
56-60 529 4.4% 11,516 95.6%
Over 60 660 2.3% 28,724 97.8%

 

Drinking Driver Fatalities as a Percentage of Total Driver Deaths, by Age Group

The table below shows drinking driver fatalities as a percentage of total driver fatalities within each respective age group for 2021 crashes. The age group from 26 to 30 had the highest percentage, with 46% of the driver fatalities in this age group being a drinking driver. The 16-20 age group decreased from 16.7% in 2020. In 2021, unfortunatley, 33.3% of fatal drivers under the age of 16 chose to combine alcohol usage and driving without a license.

Age Group Percentage of Total Driver Fatalities
Under 16 33.3%
16-20 17.7%
21-25 32.4%
26-30 45.7%
31-35 32.1%
36-40 32.8%
41-45 31.0%
46-50 30.2%
51-55 39.3%
56-60 18.5%
61-65 13.3%
66-70 14.3%
71-75   0.0%
Over 75   1.2%

 

Underage Drinking Drivers in Pennsylvania Crashes—Historical Data

Act 31, commonly known as the “Underage Drinking Law,” went into effect on May 24, 1988. From that year, and until 1994, the number of underage drinking drivers involved in Pennsylvania crashes declined each year. From 1997 until 2002, the amount of underage drinking drivers remained consistently high. From that point until 2019 there has been a downward trend with 2020 and 2012 reversing the trend.

Year Underage Drinking Drivers in PA Crashes
2012 954
2013 782
2014 672
2015 585
2016 613
2017 542
2018 419
2019 364
2020  441
2021 486