A new study from the University of Texas at Austin has found that a driver’s level of intoxication during an interstate trip can significantly affect the likelihood of an accident.
The study, titled “Intoxication and Collision Safety,” found that people who had high blood alcohol levels had a 33 percent higher risk of a collision, and that people with moderate or high blood-alcohol levels had an 8 percent higher chance of an crash.
Researchers at the UT Austin School of Public Safety and the Institute for Traffic Safety in Austin conducted the study, which involved a nationally representative sample of more than 12,000 drivers who were surveyed in 2012.
The survey included questions about drivers’ intoxication during the day, including driving with a blood alcohol level of .07 or higher.
The researchers used a combination of factors to predict which states would be most prone to accidents, such as having a higher percentage of people in the highest income brackets, the presence of people over 65 and people with an older age bracket.
States that have high blood levels of alcohol also had more crashes than states with low levels of intoxication.
The study found that states with the highest blood levels in 2012 had the highest crashes.
“When we looked at states where the blood alcohol concentration was at a level that was higher than the state average, we found that those states had the most crashes and also the highest levels of impaired driving,” said David M. Hart, a professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice at UT Austin.
The findings also showed that the highest crash rates occurred in states with relatively high percentages of those with high levels of high blood or blood alcohol.
In Texas, for example, 23 percent of the population had high levels, but only 7 percent of drivers had high enough levels to be considered impaired.
The researchers say that the results suggest that, despite being more vulnerable, people with high blood concentrations are not as susceptible to the effects of intoxication and accidents as other drivers.
“High blood alcohol concentrations were associated with significantly higher crash risks for the majority of drivers with high impairment levels,” the study said.
The new findings were published in the journal Transportation Research Part F: Policy and Practice.
Hart says that while some of the new findings suggest that some states may have increased their intoxication levels during the Great Recession, other states have actually seen their crash rates drop.
“There are some states in the South that have actually been very successful in lowering the risk of crashes and fatalities in terms of drunk driving,” Hart said.
Hart also says that a greater understanding of how intoxication impacts crashes may allow for better policy recommendations to reduce accidents and fatalities.
“This study has been a long time coming, and we have been making progress,” Hart added.