The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported a dramatic decline in drunk driving incidents, the lowest in two decades, most likely caused by the current state of the U.S. economy.
While the exact reason was not given, CDC research suggests that many people are finding cheaper routes to drinking, possibly at home in lieu of at bars, thanks to a slowdown in the economy.
One possibility is that people are drinking at home more and therefore driving less after drinking, CDC director Dr. Thomas Frieden said.
The CDC study released on Tuesday estimated a 30 percent decline in drunken driving incidents in 2010, down to 112 million from 161 million in the peak year of 2006.
The research was based on a 2010 national telephone survey of about 210,000 U.S. adults, where one in five admitted to driving drunk in the previous month. Findings showed that more than half of those surveyed, or 1.8 percent of the entire U.S. adult population, drove while under the influence once, while others admitted to doing it daily.
Young men between the ages of 21 and 34 accounted for 32 percent of the drunk driving incidents, though they account for a fraction of the U.S. population, the study showed. Midwestern states had the highest percentage of drinking and driving incidents.
The CDC also found in related research that binge drinkers -- those who consume four to five drinks in a short period of time -- were more likely to get behind the wheel, accounting for 85 percent of the episodes reported.
CDC officials said sobriety checkpoints, heightened alcohol taxes and stricter liability laws for bars and pubs could help reduce the rate even further.