Crash Facts

Pennsylvania DUI Association

Alcohol-Related Crashes

2020 Crash Facts – Click for a complete copy of the Crash Facts

Alcohol Overview

▶ In Pennsylvania, drinking and driving remains a top safety issue. In 2020, alcohol-related crashes decreased to 7,700 from 9,380 alcohol-related crashes in 2019. In 2020, alcohol-related fatalities decreased to 293 from 299 in 2019.

▶ Of particular concern is the involvement of drinking drivers under the age of 21. 17% of the driver fatalities in the 16-20 age group were drinking drivers, up from 14% in 2019. Improvement in this age group is a very important need.

▶ Of equal focus is the 31 to 35 age group, in which 44% of the driver fatalities were drinking drivers. This age group had the worst percentage of all groups, and was up from 39% in 2019. The 26 to 30 age group increased to 36% from 34% in 2019.

▶ In 2020, alcohol-related deaths were 26% of the total traffic fatalities, less than in 2018 and 2019.

2020 Briefs

▶ 293 people died in alcohol-related crashes.

▶ 89% of the alcohol-related occupant fatalities (drivers and passengers) were in the vehicle driven by the drinking driver; 75% were the drinking drivers themselves.

▶ 74% of the drinking drivers in traffic crashes were male.

▶ 70% of the alcohol-related crashes were during the hours of darkness, usually on weekends.

▶ On average each day, 21 alcohol-related traffic crashes occurred.

▶ On average each day, 0.8 persons were fatally injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes.

▶ On average each day, 13 persons were injured in alcohol-related traffic crashes.

Alcohol Involvement in Crashes

 Although alcohol-related crashes accounted for approximately 7% of the total crashes in 2020, they resulted in 26% of all persons fatally injured in crashes. Alcohol-related crashes were 4.3 times more likely to result in fatal injury than those not related to alcohol (3.5% 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    270 (25.5%)    293 (26.0%) 3,701 (8.2%) 4,917 (8.0%) 4,729 (6.4%)
Non-Alcohol Related    790 (74.5%)    836 (74.1%) 41,256 (91.8%) 56,331 (92.0%) 54,729 (93.6%)
Total 1,060 (100.0%) 1,129 (100.0%) 44,957 (100.0%) 61,248 (100.0%) 58,458 (100.0%)

 

Alcohol-Related Crashes—Five-Year Trends

Alcohol-related crashes decreased in 2020, and were the lowest total in the last five years. Alcohol-related fatalities decreased in 2020, and were the lowest total in the last five years. Alcohol-related fatalities are trending downward.

2016 2017 2018 2019 2020
Crashes 10,256 10,346 9,811 9,390 7,700
  Fatal Crashes 270 280 307 280 270
  Injury Crashes 4,911 4,908 4,665 4,490 3,701
   PDO Crashes 5,057 5,158 4,839 4,620 3,729
Fatalities 297 293 331 299 293
Injuries 6,589 6,565 6,227 5,938 4,917
Fatal Crashes per 100,000 Licensed Drivers 3.0 3.1 3.4 3.1 3.0
Deaths per 100,000 Licensed Drivers 3.3 3.3 3.7 3.3 3.2

Victims of Alcohol-Related Fatal Crashes

There were 264 driver and passenger fatalities in alcohol-related crashes in 2020, while 234 (89%) were the drinking drivers or their passengers.

Persons Involved Deaths
Drivers 216
  Drinking Drivers  198 (91.7%)
  Non-Drinking Drivers  18 (8.3%)
Passengers 48
  Passengers with Drinking Driver 36 (75.0%)
 Passengers with Non-Drinking Driver 12 (25.0%)
Pedestrians 24
  Drinking Pedestrian 23 (95.8%)
  Non-Drinking Pedestrian 1 (4.2%)
TOTAL DEATHS 293

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 (57% of alcohol-related deaths). In contrast, under half of the fatalities (48%) 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   56   81
4:00-7:59 AM   97   22
8:00-11:59 AM 145     9
Noon-3:59 PM 211   37
4:00-7:59 PM 186   57
8:00-11:59 PM 141   87
Time Unknown     0     0
TOTAL DEATHS 836 293

Victims of Fatal Crashes by Day of Week

Under half (48%) of alcohol-related fatal crash victims were the result of crashes occurring on 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 104  24
Tuesday 143  28
Wednesday 118  39
Thursday 106  26
Friday 141  35
Saturday 119  74
Sunday 105  67
TOTAL DEATHS 836 293

Alcohol-Related Crashes—Day vs. Night

70.0% of alcohol-related crashes occurred at night.

Alcohol-Related Holiday Crashes

In 2019, 10% of all holiday crashes involved alcohol use; however, 31% of deaths which occurred during holiday weekends were related to alcohol use.

Period Crashes Deaths
New Years   57 0
Post New Years   18 1
Pre-Memorial Day   77 5
Memorial Day   78 3
Post Memorial Day   77 8
Pre-Independence Day 107 4
Independence Day 123 5
Post-Independence Day   98 4
Pre-Labor Day   97 4
Labor Day 118 6
Post-Labor Day   85 4
Pre-Thanksgiving 124 3
Thanksgiving 123 4
Post-Thanksgiving 109 1
Pre-Christmas   52 0
Christmas   86 2
TOTAL 1,429 54

Driver Involvement in Alcohol-Related Crashes by Vehicle Type

 Motorcyclists had the largest percentage of drinking drivers to total drivers compared to the drivers of other types of vehicles. Drinking drivers of passenger cars, light trucks, vans, and sport utility vehicles were equal to or just above 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 – 165,461 

Passenger Cars 87,852
Lt Trk/SUV/Van 65,196
Heavy Truck   6,806
Motorcycle   3,491
Bus      474
Other   1,642

 

Drinking Drivers in Crashes -7,577 (4.6% of total) 

Passenger Cars 4,195 4.8% of total
Lt Trk/SUV/Van 2,960 4.5% of total
Heavy Truck      47 0.7% of total
Motorcycle    284 8.1% of total
Bus        0 0.0% of total
Other      91 5.5% of total

Drinking Drivers in Crashes by Age and Sex

 In 2019, 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 73 drivers for whom age and/or sex were not known. 

Age Group Male Female Total
Under 16       3     1        4
16-20    336   99    435
21-25   960 362 1,322
26-30   938 376 1,314
31-35    676 283   959
36-40    577 213    790
41-45    432 181    613
46-50    431 121    552
51-55    433 115    548
56-60    372   88    460
61-65    237   40    277
66-70    100   22    122
71-75      65   16      81
Over 75      31   10      41
Total 5,591 1,927 7,518

 

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

 In 2020, as the table below shows, the two age groups from 21 to 30 had the highest percentage of drinking drivers within their respective age groups. After age 25, 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 4 drinking drivers. 

Age Group Drinking Driver   Non-Drinking Driver
Under 16        4 2.1%      188 97.9%
16-20    437 2.3% 18,988 97.8%
21-25 1,323 6.0% 20,842 94.0%
26-30 1,318 6.6% 18,571 93.4%
31-35   959 5.8% 15,565 94.2%
36-40    792 5.7% 13,106 94.3%
41-45    614 5.4% 10,824 94.6%
46-50    552 5.0% 10,535 95.0%
51-55    548 5.0% 10,387 95.0%
56-60    460 4.4%  9,997 95.6%
Over 60    523 2.1% 24,514 97.9%

 

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 2019 crashes. The age group from 21 to 25 had the highest percentage, with 43% of the driver fatalities in this age group being a drinking driver. The 16-20 age group decreased from 28.9% in 2018. In 2019, there were no drivers under the age of 16 who chose to combine alcohol usage and driving without a license. 

Age Group Percentage of Total Driver Fatalities
Under 16 0.0%
16-20 16.7%
21-25 27.9%
26-30 35.7%
31-35 43.6%
36-40 24.6%
41-45 31.5%
46-50 29.1%
51-55 28.1%
56-60 34.7%
61-65 18.4%
66-70   9.8%
71-75   3.1%
Over 75   6.0%

 

 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 2020 there has been a downward trend with 2020, 2012 and 2016 disrupting the steady decrease. 

Year Underage Drinking Drivers in PA Crashes
2011 943
2012 954
2013 782
2014 672
2015 585
2016 613
2017 542
2018 419
2019 364
2020  441