Closing Bars Barely Dents Texas Drunk Driving Fatalities
According to data compiled by the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS), drunk driving fatalities barely decreased in July 2020 compared to July 2019. Most surprisingly this modest decrease occurred even with the bars in Texas shutdown for the entire month.
These same numbers also show a 14% decline in the total number of drunk driving accidents over the same time period. It appears that despite a raging global pandemic and many establishments shut down by the state, drunk driving has not declined nearly as much as many would expect.
Comparing Texas Drunk Driving Incidents from July 2020 to July 2019
For the month of July 2020, Texas DPS reported 1814 total car crashes involving alcohol. Of that number, 423 resulted in injuries that required hospitalization. Sadly, of those 423 serious injury crashes, 64 proved fatal.
As a reference point, July 2019 saw 2111 drunk driving crashes, in which 66 people died, and a total of 503 people were hospitalized. Comparing the two months saw a 16% decline in crashes that resulted in hospitalization, slightly more than the overall decline of 14%.
What Do These Numbers Illustrate about Texas Drunk Driving Crashes?
Under normal circumstances, a double-digit decrease in the number of drunk driving crashes and injuries would be a cause for celebration. However, with all of the bars in the state closed, on top of a lack of the large gatherings such as sporting events and concerts, it’s rather disappointing that the decline isn’t larger.
For instance, during the first month of the pandemic (from mid-March through mid-April), Dallas County saw a dramatic 30% reduction in drunk driving crashes and fatalities. While that drop was likely an anomaly, it illustrates the point that drunk driving and its costs are a matter of choice.
Unfortunately, it appears that several months removed from the lowest drunk driving numbers in state history, many Texans are back to making the wrong choice.