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July 15, 1992

Driving While Under Influence of Alcohol Remains Major Cause of Traffic Violence

JAMA. 1992;268(3):303-304. doi:10.1001/jama.1992.03490030013005

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OF THE MANY causes of traffic violence, drunk driving is probably the one that physicians can do the most to prevent. By assessing and treating alcohol abuse and alcoholism in their patients, physicians can play an important role in preventing some traffic deaths and injuries.

Almost half of all traffic crashes involve alcohol. (And for all age groups 34 years and younger, traffic crashes remain the leading cause of death.)

In 1990, alcohol-related crashes left 22 084 people dead—one third of these were innocent victims. The number of fatalities is uncannily close to the number of homicides that same year—23 440.

Deaths and Injuries  Fatalities are just one aspect of drunk driving's impact on public health. Alcohol-related traffic crashes in 1990 also left 1.19 million people injured, including 43 140 people with permanent partial disabilities and 4092 with permanent total disabilities, says Ted Miller, PhD, director, safety and risk policy