Archive for Monday, December 14, 2009

Federal study shows alcohol-related traffic accidents increasing at alarming rate in Kansas

December 14, 2009


— A federal study showing Kansas had the second-highest increase in alcohol-related traffic accidents in the nation last year reveals that the state’s drunken driving system needs overhauling, advocates say.

A report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths in Kansas rose 36.1 percent from 2007 to 2008.

The increase comes even as the number of overall highway deaths in Kansas dropped to an all-time low, according to state accident records.

Those familiar with the system weren’t surprised by the numbers.

“I think its just a result of the fact that our DUI system is broken,” said Mary Ann Khoury, head of the DUI Victim Center of Kansas. “If something that’s broken never gets fixed, it just gets worse, and that’s probably what we’re seeing.”

Sedgwick County District Judge Phil Journey, who studied the issue as a defense lawyer and a state senator, said the report should help efforts to overhaul state laws regarding driving under the influence.

“It’s something that should get everybody’s attention.”

The federal report found that from 2007 to 2008, the fatality rate in the United States declined from 1.36 to 1.25 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. The rate of alcohol-impaired fatalities dropped from 0.43 to 0.40 per 100 million miles traveled.

In Kansas, the report said, the overall fatality rate dropped from 1.38 to 1.30 deaths per 100 million miles traveled. But the number of alcohol-related deaths rose from 0.36 to 0.49 per 100 million miles traveled.

Kansas’ 36.1 percent increase was second only to a 40 percent jump in New Hampshire.

Kansas ranked 27th in the overall fatality rate and 16th in the alcohol-related fatality rate. While alcohol-related traffic deaths rose in six states in 2008, the rates declined in 40 states.

Pete Bodyk, chief of the Kansas Department of Transportation’s traffic safety bureau, said it was possible that economic struggles led to more alcohol consumption and impaired driving. But he noted that the state had its lowest number of fatalities in 2008 since recordkeeping started in the late 1940s.

The state recorded 385 traffic deaths in 2008, down 7 percent from 2007 and down 29 percent from 1999.

Bodyk and Khoury are both members of the Kansas DUI Commission, which is expected to issue an interim report on the state’s driving laws to the 2010 Kansas Legislature and make final recommendations the next year.


igby 8 years, 5 months ago

The weak economy has lowered the blue collar working class that represents about 83% of the population in Kansas, to chronic depression. Their going to self-medicate, kick the dog, slap the ho, and self destruct. Their going to drink and drive and just say "eat me".

matchbox81 8 years, 5 months ago

I'm not sure it can all be blamed on the economy. The general attitude towards drinking and driving when I was at KU less than 2 years ago was much more blase` than other colleges I attended outside of Kansas. People here openly admit to having two or three DUI's without any sense of shame. Until drunkin driving is seen by everyone as being incredibly stupid and socially unacceptable, the accident rates will continue to increase.

nytemayr 8 years, 5 months ago

Overall traffic deaths are down in Kansas. This is good news.

notme 8 years, 5 months ago

I don't trust the math. How do 'they' calculate the number of miles driven? What are the raw numbers? Was there an event which biased the numbers (a single wreck with a lot of deaths).

What classifies as an alcohol related accident? Were the numbers reported by a third party? Or, where they reported by a state official with an agenda?

.36 to .49 of a percent of 100 Million seems statistically irrelevant, especially for only one year. Did the number of miles by people passing through ks on i-70 decrease? This alone would cause an increase in deaths/mile....

I'm tired of people with agendas using a reported number as fact. The assumptions and the raw data are never reported or available.

tomatogrower 8 years, 5 months ago

Oh please notme, it's stupid to drink and drive no matter how many people die. Just don't do it.

imastinker 8 years, 5 months ago

It could be a change in the amount of enforcement and checking of alcohol levels after an accident. I doubt there is more drunken driving out there this year - especially at that level.

Regardless, ANY drunk driving is unforgivable.

Stu Clark 8 years, 5 months ago

The laws didn't change from '07 to '08 so it's hard to see how the law, lax or otherwise, could be responsible for the increase. Maybe the law should be toughened, but this data, by itself, doesn't provide any such indication. The politicians will talk about changing the law becuase making law is what they do.

Jennifer Dropkin 8 years, 5 months ago

The NHTSA report can be found at,

and the report indicates that the research was done by FARS, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, which can be found at

If you want to examine the data, you can request it from here:

notme, if you suspect that the data are inaccurate or that the methodology is incorrect, you can check them by going to the sources of the information. Otherwise, you seem to be rejecting the conclusion because you don't like it, not because you know that the data or methodology is wrong.

GmaD321 8 years, 5 months ago

If drinking 1 beer/mixed drink will render you over the limit, why does the US have bars and drinking establishments w/o having something firmly in place to prevent driving while intoxicated? Society has by the existence of drinking establishments made it OK to drink and drive. The article I saw a few weeks ago about a new type of taxi service that had people on mopeds who go to the drunk and drive them home sounds like an excellent idea. The drunk has their car at home the next morning-no wondering where it is. I think this was in the UK.

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