Drunk driving deaths on the rise again, after years of decline

After falling steadily for several years, fatal traffic accidents have been on the rise once again in the United States, and some experts believe changing attitudes toward certain risky behaviors may be a factor in the trend.

According to a study by the American Automobile Association, U.S. drivers may be changing how they think about traffic safety risks like distraction and intoxication. Troublingly, the survey revealed that fewer drivers today are concerned with the potential dangers of certain risky behaviors than once was the case.

Nine out of 10 drivers questioned in a 2009 AAA survey on driver attitudes said that they believed intoxicated driving posed a threat to other motorists. In the more recent survey, however, fewer than seven out of 10 drivers responded in this way. Some commentators have suggested that this trend may help account for the recent increase in traffic deaths on U.S. roads. On the other hand, some say that the shift may reflect a decreased emphasis on drunk driving prevention, which arguably has taken a back seat to distracted driving awareness in recent years.

California drunk driving statistics

In 2011, there were 774 drunk driving fatalities on California roads - an average of more than two deaths per day. Intoxicated driving was a factor in nearly 28 percent California traffic deaths during that year, compared to a national average of 31 percent.

Drunk driving deaths in CaliforniaCalifornia drunk driving statistics

To put these numbers in a different light, California had 2.1 alcohol-related traffic deaths per 100,000 residents in 2011. Nationally, the rate was 3.2 impaired driving fatalities per 100,000 people. Both sets of figures indicate that California is above average in the U.S. for preventing fatal accidents caused by drunk driving.

Financial help after a crash in California

People who drive drunk in California can be held financially liable for the injuries and other damage they cause, whether or not they are ever convicted of a criminal offense in relation to the crash. The same is true of people who cause accidents due to distracted driving or other risky behaviors.

If you or someone close to you has been hurt in a traffic accident caused by another person's negligence or wrongdoing, you may be able to receive monetary compensation for your injuries, as well as for any lost income, medical bills, hospitalization costs and other financial harm you have suffered in connection to the crash. To learn more about your rights and options for moving forward, talk to a personal injury lawyer about your situation.