Crash Facts

Pennsylvania DUI Association

Alcohol-Related Crashes

2019 Crash Facts – Click for a complete copy of the Crash Facts

Alcohol Overview

▶ In Pennsylvania, drinking and driving remains a top safety issue. In 2019, alcohol-related crashes decreased to 9,380 from 9,811 alcohol-related crashes in 2018. In 2019, alcohol-related fatalities decreased to 299 from 331 in 2018.

▶ Of particular concern is the involvement of drinking drivers under the age of 21. 14% of the driver fatalities in the 16-20 age group were drinking drivers, Down from 29% in 2018. Improvement in this age group is a very important need.

▶ Of equal focus is the 21 to 25 age group, in which 43% of the driver fatalities were drinking drivers. This age group had the worst percentage of all groups, and was up from 43% in 2018. The 26 to 30 age group decreased to 34% from 36% in 2018.

▶ In 2019, alcohol-related deaths were 28% of the total traffic fatalities, less than in 2015 and 2018.

2019 Briefs

▶ 299 people died in alcohol-related crashes.

▶ 87% of the alcohol-related occupant fatalities (drivers and passengers) were in the vehicle driven by the drinking driver; 72% were the drinking drivers themselves.

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

▶ 69% of the alcohol-related crashes were during the hours of darkness, usually on weekends.

▶ On average each day, 26 alcohol-related traffic crashes occurred.

▶ On average each day, 0.8 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 2019, they resulted in 28% of all persons fatally injured in crashes. Alcohol-related crashes were 4.9 times more likely to result in fatal injury than those not related to alcohol (3.0% of the alcohol-related crashes resulted in fatal injury, compared to 0.6% 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    280 (28.3%)    299 (28.2%) 4,490 (8.1%) 5,938 (7.8%) 4,620 (6.7%)
Non-Alcohol Related    710 (71.7%)    760 (71.8%) 51,056 (91.9%) 70,301 (92.2%) 64,088 (93.3%)
Total 990 (100.0%) 1,059 (100.0%) 55,546 (100.0%) 76,239 (100.0%) 68,708 (100.0%)

 

Alcohol-Related Crashes—Five-Year Trends

Alcohol-related crashes decreased in 2019, and were the lowest total in the last five years. Alcohol-related fatalities decreased in 2019, and were the third lowest total in the last five years. Alcohol-related fatalities are trending downward.

2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
Crashes 10,558 10,256 10,346 9,811 9,390
  Fatal Crashes 321 270 280 307 280
  Injury Crashes 5,274 4,911 4,908 4,665 4,490
   PDO Crashes 4,963 5,057 5,158 4,839 4,620
Deaths 345 297 293 331 299
Injuries 7,055 6,589 6,565 6,227 5,938
Fatal Crashes per 100,000 Licensed Drivers 3.6 3.0 3.1 3.4 3.1
Deaths per 100,000 Licensed Drivers 3.9 3.3 3.3 3.7 3.3

Victims of Alcohol-Related Fatal Crashes

There were 258 driver and passenger fatalities in alcohol-related crashes in 2019, while 225 (87%) were the drinking drivers or their passengers.

Persons Involved Deaths
Drivers 208
  Drinking Drivers  187 (89.9%)
  Non-Drinking Drivers  21 (10.1%)
Passengers 50
  Passengers with Drinking Driver 38 (76.0%)
 Passengers with Non-Drinking Driver 12 (24.0%)
Pedestrians 39
  Drinking Pedestrian 29 (74.4%)
  Non-Drinking Pedestrian 10 (25.6%)
TOTAL DEATHS 299

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 (59% of alcohol-related deaths). In contrast, under half of the fatalities (49%) 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   55   70
4:00-7:59 AM  94   21
8:00-11:59 AM 135     6
Noon-3:59 PM 197   31
4:00-7:59 PM 175   65
8:00-11:59 PM 104  106
Time Unknown     0     0
TOTAL DEATHS 760 299

Victims of Fatal Crashes by Day of Week

Under half (44%) 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 Thursday and Saturday

Day of Occurrence Non-Alcohol-Related Alcohol-Related
Monday 104  35
Tuesday   95  26
Wednesday 110  31
Thursday   97  33
Friday 137  42
Saturday 106  68
Sunday 111  64
TOTAL DEATHS 760 299

Alcohol-Related Crashes—Day vs. Night

68.5% 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   54 0
Post New Years   21 2
Pre-Memorial Day 130 3
Memorial Day 119 4
Post Memorial Day   94 1
Pre-Independence Day   20 0
Independence Day   42 0
Post-Independence Day   23 1
Pre-Labor Day 127 6
Labor Day 117 4
Post-Labor Day 122 9
Pre-Thanksgiving 141 2
Thanksgiving 164 3
Post-Thanksgiving 123 4
Pre-Christmas   20 1
Christmas   35 0
TOTAL 1,352 40

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 – 205,959

 

Passenger Cars 110,775
Lt Trk/SUV/Van   82,202
Heavy Truck     7,529
Motorcycle     3,062
Bus        795
Other     1,596

 

Drinking Drivers in Crashes -9,186 (4.6% of total)

 

Passenger Cars 5,170 4.7% of total
Lt Trk/SUV/Van 3,622 4.4% of total
Heavy Truck      44 0.6% of total
Motorcycle    261 8.5% of total
Bus        2 0.3% of total
Other      87 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       1    0        1
16-20    272   89    361
21-25 1,183 499 1,682
26-30 1,091 450 1,541
31-35    861 311 1,172
36-40    725 272    997
41-45    535 195    729
46-50    503 175    678
51-55    472 172    644
56-60    480 137    617
61-65    285   69    354
66-70    143   42    185
71-75      77   14      91
Over 75      47   14      61
Total 6,675 2,438 9,113

 

 

 

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

 

In 2019, 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 40, 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 1 drinking drivers.

 

Age Group Drinking Driver   Non-Drinking Driver
Under 16        1 0.8%      127 99.2%
16-20    363 1.6% 21,994 98.4%
21-25 1,683 6.4% 24,674 93.6%
26-30 1,544 6.3% 22,852 93.7%
31-35 1,172 5.8% 18,979 94.2%
36-40    999 5.7% 16,465 94.3%
41-45    732 5.0% 13,831 95.0%
46-50    679 4.6% 14,104 95.4%
51-55    645 4.5% 13,764 95.5%
56-60    620 4.5% 13,271 95.5%
Over 60    692 2.1% 32,509 97.9%

 

 

 

Drinking Driver Deaths 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 Deaths
Under 16 0.0%
16-20 14.3%
21-25 43.3%
26-30 33.8%
31-35 39.3%
36-40 26.0%
41-45 38.6%
46-50 26.5%
51-55 29.1%
56-60 27.1%
61-65 26.5%
66-70   2.9%
71-75 13.3%
Over 75   4.4%

 

 

 

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 2010, 2012 and 2016 disrupting the steady decrease.

 

Year Underage Drinking Drivers in PA Crashes
2010 1,265
2011 943
2012 954
2013 782
2014 672
2015 585
2016 613
2017 542
2018 419
2019 364