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Drunk Driving Statistics: US vs. Rest of the World


Drunk driving is a major problem in the US. However, the US isn’t the only country with a drinking problem. There are several others that have serious troubles with drinking and driving. Find out which countries have the worst problems with drinking and driving and how they compare to the US. The world-wide drunk driving statistics might surprise you.

Other Countries: Drunk Driving Statistics

Out of all the countries in the world, South Africa may have the worst drunk driving statistics. In the Global Status Report on Road Safety in 2015, South Africa received the ranking as one of the worst countries for car accidents. In the country, many of those accidents relate to drinking and driving. Their statistics truly separate them from the rest of the world. With 25.1 car accident deaths for every 100,000 people annually, South Africa sees many fatalities. About six out of every ten of those fatalities involve alcohol. More than half of the road fatalities are caused by drinking and driving – about 58%.

In other countries, the drunk driving statistics are slightly better. For example, Canada has the second highest rate of alcohol-related road fatalities. However, they are in much better shape than South Africa. Approximately 34% of road fatalities involve alcohol. It is worth noting that Canada experienced a significant drop in road fatalities since 2003. Since then, the number dropped 43%. Nevertheless, drunk driving road fatalities did not seem to change.

Following behind Canada is the US. In the US, 31% of road deaths relate to alcohol consumption. Not far behind the US is Australia, with 30%. Only slightly behind Australia is France at 29%. Next, Italy comes in with a 25% death rate related to alcohol. Then, there is a significant drop in the drunk driving statistics. The United Kingdom only had 16% of fatal accidents caused by alcohol. At 14%, South Korea comes next. Both Russia and Germany rank well with alcohol a problem in only 9% of road deaths. From there, the numbers continue to drop.

Why is There Such a Difference?

When you look at the extreme difference of drunk driving statistics between South Africa and other countries, you might wonder why. There is no way to say for sure why some countries have such problems with drunk driving. However, there are a few theories that attempt to explain it:

1. Social Norms

In some countries, drunk driving is more acceptable than others. For example, the United Kingdom has a particularly strong stance against drinking and driving. But it’s not the police that stop people from driving home drunk. Instead, it’s friends and acquaintances. People in the UK tend to look down on drinking and driving. When they see someone trying to do it, they stop them.

In other countries, drunk driving is the norm. For example, consider South Africa. The individuals in the country do not see a problem with drinking and driving. Although the country has strict penalties for drunk driving, they are not enough to get people to stop doing it. The people in the country need to change the way that they see drunk driving. Then, they might discourage others from doing it.

2. Drinking Culture

Some cultures spend a lot of time drinking. So, it should not be surprising that those cultures tend to have high rates of drunk driving. Specifically, India does not have much of a drinking culture. People don’t go out to the bars drinking as frequently as they do in other countries. And less than 5% of road fatalities related to alcohol.

Meanwhile, Australia has a strong drinking culture. They have a much higher alcohol-related fatality rate of 30%. Although a drinking culture does not always mean drunk driving will be a problem, it does make it more likely that drunk driving will occur.

3. The Laws Vary

The penalties and laws regarding drinking and driving do affect the rate of drunk driving. While some countries have the same legal drinking and driving limit as the US, others have lower limits. For example, Germany and South Korea have the impairment at .05%. If a driver has a BAC of .05% or higher, he will face legal consequences. Both Germany and South Korea have low occurrences of drunk driving road fatalities. Meanwhile, the US has a higher BAC level and more fatalities. Russia, which has one of the least frequent occurrences of drunk driving fatalities, has a BAC limit of .02%.

While there is a correlation between harsh laws and less drinking and driving, that is not always the case. South Africa has strict drunk driving laws. However, they have a major problem with drinking and driving. There is more to it than just the laws.

There is no single factor that affects drinking and driving. Instead, there are several factors at play. The US could move down in the list of countries with drunk driving problems if it tackles some of the issues. Until then, it remains as one of the worst countries for drunk driving.

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