Road safety, alcohol and public policy (Editorial)
As one of the leading causes of death and injury that exact a high societal cost, motor vehicle highway crashes are a major public policy concern. The direct economic cost of global road crashes has been estimated conservatively at US$518 billion a year (Peden et al., 2004), with US$207 billion accruing to the European union countries and US$230 billion to the United States of America. Although there are many factors contributing to the frequency and severity of road crashes, drunk driving (also known as drink driving, driving while intoxicated, driving under the influence of alcohol) is among the principal reasons for crashes in many countries. Of the 38,252 fatal crashes in the US in 2003, for example, 40% were alcohol related, a percentage that has remained relatively stable over the past few years. Consistent with this, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in a study based on 2000 US crash data, has estimated that alcohol related crashes imposed a $114.3 billion total cost on society.
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