Drunk driving fatalities in North Carolina up 13 percent

The rate of fatalities connected to drunk driving accidents in North Carolina has increased. A recent analysis of data from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Transportation and local state organizations found the rate of fatalities due to drunk driving accidents went up between 2015 and 2016, the most recent data available. There were 411 fatalities in North Carolina due to drunk driving accidents, a 13.2 percent increase over the previous year.

The analysis comes as concerns are growing about the role that drunk driving is playing in traffic accidents in the state.

What is being done to address this problem?

The North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Wildlife Resources Commission is conducting a safety initiative to address this issue. The initiative, "On the Road, On the Water, Don't Drink and Drive," will include sobriety checkpoints and increased public awareness to encourage the use of a designated driver. The campaign will run on the busiest weekends in the summer, May 26 through 28, June 29 through July 1, July 6 through 8 and September 1 through 3.

Lawmakers are also considering legislative action. North Carolina's legislative Child Fatality Task Force recently voted to support a bill that would require all drunk driving offenders to have an ignition interlock device within their vehicle. North Carolina state law currently requires less than 20 percent of all DUI offenders to install an ignition interlock device.

Supporters of the bill state the move would serve as a strong deterrent and increase the safety of the state's roadways. An epidemiologist with the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch of the Department of Health and Human Services agrees. The government scientist notes deaths due to drunk driving related accidents decrease by an average of 15 percent and re-arrest rates decrease by 67 percent in states that pass this type of legislation.

What about victims of drunk driving accidents?

Although the measures noted above can reduce the risk of drunk driving accidents, these crashes can still happen. Being involved in a collision can be a devastating experience and one made all the more frustrating when it becomes clear that the other driver may have been impaired or have been otherwise driving recklessly at the time. Victims have options. Victims can hold a driver that operates a vehicle while inebriated and injures another liable through a personal injury lawsuit.