Report: Alcohol-related driving deaths increased in 2020 throughout the Bluegrass State

Crash fatalities involving alcohol went up 31.8% in Kentucky from 2019 to 2020. Only seven other states had higher percentage increases, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

LEXINGTON, Ky (WTVQ)- Alarming numbers in a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show drunk driving crashes in Kentucky are among the highest in the country.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving National President Alex Otte knew the numbers were not going to be good, based on previous estimates. But the drunk driving victim didn’t expect this big of an increase in alcohol-related crashes.

“I always say I may be national president, but I still live in Lexington, and home is where the heart is,” Otte siad. “And not only is it devastating to see this across the country, but to see Kentucky as one of the worst, it’s hard.”

A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Adminstration says crash fatalities involving alcohol went up 31.8% in the Bluegrass State, compared to 2019.
Only seven other states had a higher percentage increase.

AAA Bluegrass spokesperson Lori Weaver Hawkins says the timing is interesting, particularly because the pandemic led to fewer drivers on the road.

“It’s very interesting that that comes from folks spending more time at home versus being at the workplace where they weren’t leaving the workplace, they were occupied with their job, and didn’t see the weekday impaired driving that you saw during the pandemic,” Weaver Hawkins said.

With mask mandates and shut downs hopefully in the rearview mirror, Weaver Hawkins says its even more important to not drive impaired.

“I think we all need that reminder,” she said. “Folks are happy to be out and about a little bit more and socializing. And when we get into the warmer weather, that’s certainly a big concern that we’re going to see is more impaired driving because of it.”

Despite that increase of alcohol related driving deaths here in the state, Otte says she will continue to bring awareness of the dangers of impaired driving.

“Because after you take that first drink, your perception may be impaired,” Otte said. “And so have that plan as soon as you plan to go out or what you’re going to wear or where you’re gonna go, plan for how you’re gonna get home.”

As her efforts continue to reverse a trend headed in the wrong direction.

“If people want to make this awful choice, they’re going to do so. But it’s even more so of a reason that we can’t stop fighting. There are so many more families and so many more people new to fight for,” she said.

Here’s the link to the NHTSA website:  https://www.nhtsa.gov/

Link to the NHTSA Report:  https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/813266

AAA Foundation Report:  https://aaafoundation.org/self-reported-risky-driving-in-relation-to-changes-in-amount-of-driving-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

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