Drinking Improves Highway Safety (Apparently)

By Jim Baxter, NMA President

A new federal study from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (part of the US Dept. of Health and Human services) just confirmed that states with the highest levels of self-reported drinking and driving also have the safest highways.

The State of Wisconsin was the overall winner with more than 25 percent of its drivers reporting that in the previous year they had drank an alcoholic beverage before (or perhaps while) driving. This was more than twice the national rate!

Clearly, this is compelling evidence that action is needed, but not in Wisconsin.

The “facts” from this federally sponsored survey, when correlated with federally produced highway safety data, suggest that many more states should follow Wisconsin’s lead and increase their percentages of drinking drivers.

According to the most recently published federal data Wisconsin’s highway fatality rate (fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled) is significantly lower than the national average (1.22 vs. 1.41 in 2006).

The same widely published press release pointed out that Utah with its anti-alcohol Mormon population had the lowest percentage of self-confessed drinking drivers.

In the interest of full disclosure it should be pointed out that the highway fatality rate in Utah is lower than is Wisconsin’s, but not nearly as low as Minnesota’s, another drinking and driving haven. Could it be that those Lutherans that charm Garrison Keiler are just better drivers than the Mormons?

OK, enough satire.

This so-called survey is a glaring example of government propaganda, sloppy and lazy reporting, and misinformation on a grand scale.

Let’s try a little dose of reality:

First, over a year’s time the percentage of Wisconsin drivers that drink and drive, at least once, is nowhere near 25 percent. The real percentage has to be at least 50 percent and probably nearer 75 percent.

A drink with dinner, a wedding reception, holiday gatherings, church picnics, softball leagues, retirement functions, euchre tournaments, bowling, community festivals, and a myriad of other occasions may involve having a drink, or more, and driving home. And, contrary to the characterizations blathered in the mindless media revelations, these are not automatically episodes of “drunk driving.”

There is no doubt that the ethnic make-up of Wisconsin and its neighboring states encourages and condones the consumption of beverages containing alcohol. That’s one of the reasons Wisconsin residents “self report” drinking and driving at higher percentages than other states.

However, they are not immune to the neo-prohibitionist jihad and therefore they are not as candid as they might or could be. The under-reporting in other states is undoubtedly equal to or greater than that in Wisconsin.

Here’s what you can take away from this federal “survey” and its subsequent circulation: Most self-reported behavior is disingenuous. Drinking and driving are NOT synonymous with drunk driving. Moderate drinking and driving are not synonymous with high accident or fatality rates. And, all governments produce self-serving propaganda, and an unthinking press prints and circulates that propaganda. End of story.

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11 Responses to “Drinking Improves Highway Safety (Apparently)”

  1. David Noble says:

    Your article on drinking and driving didn't mention the biggest lure for the judicial system to pursue "drunk drivers."
    It is a great source of money for the system, and justifies hiring a great many more policemen. California lowered the limit from .10% to .08% some time ago. No doubt to help with their budget.

  2. Triple says:

    Your presumption that any self-reporting study involves misinformation is correct. No matter what, people will not always be truthful about the topic at hand, whether it be drinking and driving or admitting illegal drug use, etc. However, encouraging people to drink and drive is not the answer. Can most people have a drink and drive home safely? Yes. But not everybody can. People that don't drink very often can be as high as .04 after just one drink depending on how much they weigh, when they last ate, etc. That means two drinks and they're at or above the legal limit to drive. Stop encouraging reckless behavior by criticizing this study and start encouraging people to designate a driver or risk facing the wrath of the court system which is currently very anti-drinking and driving of any kind.

  3. Frank B. Amyx says:

    Anyone that pays any attention to safety laws at all knows full well they are nothing other than a "money machine" for the localities. The "higway patrol" is nothing but "HIGHWAY BANDITS" that on rare occasions helps motorist.

    Using the same principles and statistics, It should be against the law for anyone to own a dog or cat in the city limits of any town regardless of size.

    There is no reason for speed limits out of city limits other than a money machine. Speed limits are designed to manipulate more people into flying. How much more fuel does it take to fly than drive. "Talk about green house gasses!"

  4. David in Marietta says:

    Triple, thank you for adding some sanity to this otherwise frivolous discussion. Thankfully, there are a few level-headed people out there. As for Frank there, those who believe traffic laws exist solely for the purpose of generating revenue obviously have problems with authority and little regard for the safety of others. Can you imagine the chaos without laws governing speed and sobriety? Your argument about cats and dogs is childish at best and utterly stupid at worst.

  5. John says:

    CONSIDER THIS. At any given time on any highway, freeway, toll road, or Interstate nationwide, One of 4 licensed Americans has had an alcoholic drink. This does not mean they are drunk per say, simply that they've had a drink. Employers don't allow it, for the most part, but it is an individual responsibility to determine through their own behavioral pattern, to give up the keys. Getting behind the wheel of a car after even 1 beer can put you over the limit. Why not take a loaded gun out on the street in public, fire it up in the air, just to see where the bullet lands. You may or may not hurt some-one but the concept is the same.But consider all the other people you're putting at risk if you are driving drunk. Insurance costs have escalated across the country in the past 5 years for the same reason. Do I drink? Yes. Do I drive a car even after 1 drink? HELL NO!!!!

  6. ceanf says:


    sorry to hear that just one puts you over the legal limit. just because you cant drive a car after a single drink doesn't mean others cant.
    you must weight 90 pounds and have an abnormally functioning liver.

  7. […] as the National Motorists Association points out, Wisconsin’s highway fatality rate is significantly lower than the national average. Riffing […]

  8. […] and Driving is GOOD!? Jump to Comments So, the state of Wisconsin has the highest self reported rate of drinking and driving. However, its actual highway fatality rate is way below the national […]

  9. Fred says:

    I looked at the NHTSA alcohol related fatality report and it counts all accidents involving one driver or motorcycle operator over 0.08 BAC. It makes no mention of who was at fault so the number of fatalities CAUSED by alcohol could be hugely inflated.

  10. Curtis says:

    I guess that's why so many people are looking online for drunk driving resources? :) http://www.clearhavencenter.com/addictions-resear
    Drinking and driving seems like a game or a statistic until someone you know gets seriously hurt, or worse.

  11. Randy says:

    All that I can say is that anyone that promotes drinking and driving, I hope they are the ones that get hit and killed by the drunk driver rather than an innocent person getting killed.