For years, drunk drivers were the bane of public safety. Drunk driving awareness was the focus of countless advertising campaigns and high school educational programs.

These days, a lot of social attention has seemingly shifted from the dangers of drunk or impaired driving to the risks of distracted driving. People seem particularly concerned with the risk of teens and young adults using mobile technology at the wheel. 

Is this new shift in focus an indication that distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving? Do you still have to worry about drunk drivers endangering your life on the Florida roads?

Drunk drivers cause a large number of annual crashes

People under the influence of alcohol can lose control or fall asleep at the wheel and strike parked vehicles, signposts or even buildings. They may also engage in bad driving habits that cause a crash with another vehicle.

Given that some drunk driving incidents result in the impaired driver leaving the scene, it’s hard to put an exact number on the total number of crashes caused by drunk drivers every year. However, it is possible to track how many fatal crashes involve someone impaired by alcohol.

In 2018, the most recent year with analyzed federal data available, there were 814 deaths due to drunk driving crashes in Florida. When you consider that there were 3,133 total traffic deaths, you can see that about a quarter of all traffic fatalities involved a drunk driver. Distracted driving causes hundreds of deaths, but not as many as drunk driving does.

Watching for unsafe drivers of all kinds protects you

The good news for drivers concerned about how other people might impact their safety on the streets is that distracted drivers and drunk drivers are sometimes easy to spot.

Both of these groups of unsafe drivers may go too fast or too slow based on the speed of traffic nearby. They might drive erratically, drift from lane to lane and have delayed responses to changes in traffic conditions.

If you spot someone who seems like an unsafe driver, it is usually safest to give them plenty of space. If you do wind up injured by a drunk driver, you may want to talk with a lawyer about the crash and what rights you have.