WASHINGTON— The number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in the United States last year dropped to a historic low, according to new data released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

According to NHTSA, alcohol-impaired driving fatalities have declined 49 percent since 1982 when record keeping first began.  Alcohol- impaired driving fatalities declined by 7.4 percent in 2009 – 10,839 compared to 11,711 reported in 2008.  Overall, 33 states and Puerto Rico experienced a decline in the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2009 compared to 2008.

“While this new data is certainly encouraging, we must not become complacent as a country,” said Dr. Monica Gourovitch, Distilled Spirits Council Senior Vice President for Scientific Affairs.  “Drunk driving still remains a factor in far too many traffic deaths each year.  The spirits industry is committed to continuing its work with federal and state leaders, and all interested stakeholders, to further bring these numbers down.”

NHTSA Highlights of 2009 Motor Vehicle Crashes