Fewer people driving drunk, CDC finds

Drunk-driving incidents have plunged 30 percent over the past five years, perhaps because the economic recession is keeping people home, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported on Tuesday.

That said, an estimated 4 million U.S. adults admitted to driving drunk at least once in 2010, the CDC found.

"In fact, nearly 11,000 people are killed every year in crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver," CDC Director Thomas Frieden said in a statement.

The CDC team used a national survey to find drinking and driving, not surprisingly, carries an element of deliberate risk taking. Young men and people who fail to use seat belts are also more likely to drink and drive, the CDC found.

The survey found that men were responsible for 81 percent of drinking and driving in 2010 -- especially young men aged 21 to 34.

But there was good news. "Since 2006, self-reported alcohol-impaired driving episodes have declined 30 percent, reaching a low of an estimated 112 million episodes in 2010," the CDC report reads. It gives two possible reasons -- people may not be driving as much because of the poor economy, or perhaps people are drinking more at home.

Because fewer people are drinking and driving, fewer are dying as a consequence. "Alcohol-impaired driving fatalities declined 20 percent from 13,491 to 10,839 from 2006 to 2009, the most recent year for which fatality data are available," the CDC said. But road deaths are down overall, so drunk driving accounts for about a third of these deaths, the same as before.

The CDC supports using sobriety checkpoints, minimum age drinking laws, and ignition locks to help prevent drunk driving.

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