Drunk Walking Not Much Safer Than Drunk Driving

Llowell Williams - Author

Aug. 7 2013, Updated 2:05 p.m. ET

Drunk walking, like drunk driving, turns out to be a very dangerous way to get home. More than a third of all pedestrians killed in 2011 were found with more alcohol in their bloodstreams than the legal limit for driving.

New data was released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this week. AP reports that it shows that 1,547 American pedestrians died last year with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 and above. That’s 35 percent of the total number of pedestrian deaths in the US in 2011.

Traffic deaths in 2011 were the cause of drunk drivers 31 percent of the time, by comparison. And of pedestrian deaths caused by motorists, 13 percent of the time the driver was above the legal limit.

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This isn’t to say drunk driving is safer than drunk walking, though. 9,878 deaths were caused by drunk driving in 2011.

Half of the pedestrians aged between 25 and 34 who died in 2011 were found to be intoxicated. A slightly smaller percentage of pedestrian deaths for the mid-30s to mid-50s group and early 20s group happened while walking drunk.

In general, pedestrian deaths have risen slightly in recent years. Some say this can be linked to drunk walking. One official said that this may be because campaigns to discourage drunk driving may have more people walking while intoxicated, according to US News and World Report.

This, officials say, might show that these programs have been successful. However, they may have forgotten to remind people about the dangers of doing almost anything while drunk. Walking drunk could be just as dangerous as driving drunk.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is currently offering states access to grants to use for pedestrian safety programs where such deaths are most common.

Officials say drinking can cause people to make deadly mistakes. When drunk, people may cross a street at an unsafe time or at the wrong time. Some might think they can beat an oncoming car.

While walking home drunk may be safer than drunk driving, how much safer might not be as much as you’d think. Next time, just call a cab or a designated driver and skip the drunk walking.

[Image via ShutterStock]


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