MATTESON, Ill., July 3 (UPI) -- Almost 11,000 people died in alcohol-impaired-driving crashes in 2009 -- nearly 32 percent of all U.S. traffic-related fatalities, officials say.
"That's an average of one impaired-driving fatality every 48 minutes in 2009," Michael Witter, Midwest Regional administrator for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, says in a statement.
"The rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2009 was four times higher at night than during the day."
Statistics gathered from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration over the past 25 years show that, on average, nearly half of all deadly traffic crashes over each year's Fourth of July holiday involved some level of alcohol, Witter says.
"In fact, 410 people were killed in motor vehicle traffic crashes nationally during the Fourth of July weekend in 2009. Of that number, 40 percent involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher," Witter says.
"Too many people still don't comprehend that alcohol, drugs and driving just don't mix. Impaired driving is no accident -- nor is it a victimless crime."