Alabama impaired driving deaths

Alabama is no stranger to high rankings, even when they're not-so-positive ones. Drunk driving fatalities is no exception.

SafeWise, an independent security review site, has ranked Alabama's roads among the most dangerous. Data shows the state had the fifth-highest number of drunk-driving deaths in 2017. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported 268 drunk-driving fatalities in Alabama, which SafeWise calculated to be 5.49 fatalities per 100,000 Alabamians.

By NHTSA's calculations, 1 in 3 fatalities in Alabama in 2017 involved a driver who had a blood-alcohol concentration of .01 grams per deciliter. A driver is not considered alcohol-impaired unless the BAC is at or above .08, which is the legal limit nationwide.

NHTSA's data did not list whether alcohol impairment was the cause of the fatal accident, though involved drivers with BACs of .08 or higher were 4.5 times more likely to have prior convictions for driving while impaired than drivers with no alcohol.

NHTSA also found 68 percent of drunk-driving fatalities in the U.S. involved at least one driver with a BAC of .15 or higher. The most frequently recorded was .16, or double the legal limit, while other accidents involved drivers with BACs of more than five times the limit.

Limestone

Limestone County has mostly matched state and nationwide trends. Drunk-driving fatalities decreased 1.5 percent from 2016 to 2017, slightly more than the nationwide decrease of 1.1 percent.

Statewide, the decrease was much steeper at 10.1 percent. From 2013 to 2017, however, the state has seen an increase of about 3.5 percent.

By contrast, Limestone County has decreased about 5.7 percent from 2013 to 2017. Whether the fatalities were drivers, passengers or others is unknown.

Holiday travel

Alabama Law Enforcement Agency reported five zero-fatality days during the 2017 holiday traveling period, which generally spans from mid-December to Jan. 1. In 2017, two of those zero-fatality days were Christmas Day and New Year's Day.

Drivers were not so lucky Christmas Day 2018, with two dying in a wreck in Jasper.

With New Year's Day right around the corner, many are stepping forward to offer free or discounted rides home for those under the influence of alcohol.

SafeWise is offering a $10 Lyft gift card to each of the first 100 people who apply for a Safe Ride Home at https://www.safewise.com/blog/safewise-for-safe-rides-home/. Applicants must live in Wyoming, South Carolina, North Dakota, New Mexico or Alabama.

AAA will also offer its Holiday Safe Ride/Tow-for-Life Program this year. The program begins 6 p.m. Monday, Dec. 31, and lasts until 6 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 1. Drivers who call 1-800-222-4357 can receive a free ride and up to 10 miles in free towing for their vehicle.

Bartenders and hosts can also call for their intoxicated guests. The service is provided to members and nonmembers of AAA, but those using the service must provide ID and the keys to the vehicle upon the tow truck's arrival.

Inoperable vehicles, rides for more than two people and rides to an establishment that isn't the customer's residence are ineligible. In some cases, a tow to a hotel may be covered if the intoxicated driver is or plans to be a guest of the hotel.

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