Alcohol related deaths decline
Leada DeVaney, Hartselle Enquirer
Morgan County reported less than five deaths from alcohol-related crashes during 2002, a figure that puts it near the bottom for the state.
The 2002 figures, the most current available, were released as part of a National Highway Transportation Safety Administration study. The study places Morgan County in the five-and-under-deaths -related-to-DUIs category, the second to lowest designation. Morgan County is also under the state average for the number of alcohol related fatalities as a percentage of total fatalities.
Jefferson County, the state's most populated county, reported the highest number of alcohol-related accidents in the state. Jefferson County reported 25-35 alcohol-related deaths from automobile accidents.
Morgan County's low rate was part of an overall trend that showed a drop in DUI deaths in Alabama. Alabama was among the 17 states reporting the lowest number of alcohol-related deaths for 2002, with only 413 of 1,033 or 40 percent, of auto accident deaths attributed to alcohol. Alabama's figure was up slightly from the year before, when 374 of the 991 auto accident deaths, or 38 percent, were alcohol related.
Over the last two decades, Alabama has showed continual improvement in lowering the number of DUI deaths. In 1982, 58 percent of all accident deaths were alcohol related. That number hit a 20 year high in 1983, with 62 percent of all car crash fatalities attributed to alcohol. Since that time, the numbers have steadily declined.
And while Alabama may be showing a drop in DUI death rates, fatalities from alcohol-related crashes are on the rise nationally. In 2002, more than 17,000 people were killed in DUI-related accidents, a figure that works out to a death every 30 minutes. According to the NTSB, some 258,000 people were injured in accidents were alcohol was present – an average of one person injured every two minutes.
Lowering those figures is the goal of troopers and local law enforcement . During the holidays, checkpoints were set up throughout Hartselle and Morgan County, with a goal of preventing getting drunk drivers off the road and preventing accidents before they occur.
It's all part of a larger NTSB push to lower the nation's DUI-related deaths.
"Impaired drivers represent one of our nation's greatest
threats,"NHTSA Administrator Jeffrey W. Runge, M.D. said "There is no
excuse to lose more than 40 lives a day, especially when it is 100 percent