Who drives drunk? Gen X guys from the Midwest

November 1, 2016

The holiday season is almost here, and with it comes an abundance of holiday parties overflowing with boozy beverages. We all know that those situations can increase the likelihood of someone driving drunk, but which people are the most likely to do so?

The folks at Alcoholic.org--a privately owned website that helps substance-abusers find treatment programs--had the same question. And so, they asked 2,000 Americans about their drinking and driving habits. Here are some of the major findings:

  • Baby Boomers age 52 to 69 were most likely to drink after consuming alcohol, with 77.61 percent admitting that they had. Their elder siblings, however, were the least likely to do so: only 63.4 percent of respondents 70 and older said that they'd had a drink and then gotten behind the wheel of a vehicle.
  • When it comes to driving drunk, though, Boomers appeared to know better. While 39.3 percent of that demographic said that they'd driven while intoxicated, 43.31 percent of Gen Xers between the age of 35 and 51 said that they'd done so. Folks 70 and older were the best of the bunch, with 27.27 percent admitting to driving drunk. Among Millennials under 35, the figure was 33.93 percent.
  • Men were significantly more prone to drive drunk than women: 45 percent of guys said that they'd done so, while 35 percent of women said the same.
  • Midwesterners were most likely to drive while intoxicated: among respondents in that region, 41.59 percent said that they'd done so. (The Southwest was hot on their heels, though, at 41.43 percent.) The Northeast had the lowest rate of drunk driving, at 27.63 percent. 
  • Hardcore alcoholics weren't the most common drunk drivers. Among those who said that they've been intoxicated while driving, a majority (52.3 percent, to be exact) said that they consumed four or fewer alcoholic beverages per week.
  • Passengers can have a huge effect on whether someone drives drunk. In fact, more than 73 percent of those who said that they'd driven drunk noted that passengers could have a strong or moderate influence on whether they get behind the wheel. Translation: if you're in a group of partiers and someone's about to drive drunk, there's a good chance that you can convince him/her not to. (On the flip side, peer pressure to drink and drive can also be overwhelming.)
  • Bizarrely, over 31 percent of people under 35 said that you can be a "good" drunk driver--meaning that they believe you might be a more cautious, attentive driver when you're hammered. That's absurd. We've seen studies that suggest smoking pot has no effect on driving skills, but the data clearly proves that driving drunk dramatically increases your risk of having an accident. (Folks over 70 apparently know this: not one of them said that you could be a "good" drunk driver.)

Drunk driving accounts for more than 10,000 U.S. fatalities each year, or roughly one-third of the total number of roadway deaths. If you or someone you know is a problem drinker, the National Institutes of Health offers plenty of advice on counseling and treatment.

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