Welcome to San Diego Blog | January 30, 2011

San Diego Ranked #1 City for Most Drunk Drivers in the U.S.

When I saw this article, “Top Cities for Drunk Drivers,” posted on a friend’s Facebook page this morning, my first reaction was alarm. As a resident of San Diego and a mother who almost always has her 2-year-old son in the car, I find it alarming that San Diego ranks number ONE on the list of cities with the most drunk drivers! I of course, quickly clicked on the link to investigate the validity of the claim.

This article is from September 29, 2010, 4 months ago and was published on CBS’s MoneyWatch.com. The article is based on a new analysis presented by Insurance.com, which reports that it bases its conclusions by pulling 320,000 insurance applications from drivers in the 20 biggest cities in the United States, excluding Boston, and seeing which cities had the most applicants with driving-under-the-influence violations. Apparently San Diego has the most applicants with this violation.

Some of the theories for why San Diego ranks number one on the list, meaning it has the most drunk drivers of any city in the United States, include the proximity to major universities, the proximity to Temecula’s wine country, the specially-trained police officers and the number of DUI check-points conducted in the area.

According to the article, college students are among the most likely to drink and drive, so the fact that San Diego is home to San Diego State University, UCSD and University of San Diego, plus other community colleges, means that we do have a large college student population living in San Diego. But they are clearly not the only ones who drink and drive. San Diego has a large number of drivers on the road, many of whom rely on their own vehicle rather than public transportation, and San Diego has a large number of “drinkers,” so there are likely to be many times when these two meet. Party spots like Pacific Beach and Gaslamp definitely factor into this.

One of the most likely reasons that San Diego is number one on the list is because of San Diego’s tough enforcement of drunk driving. According to the article, in San Diego there are six police officers specially trained to detect drivers who are under the influence and they run 20 sobriety check points each year. Officers are trained to look for subtle signs of inebriated motorists, such as pausing too long at a stop sign. So, according to the article, if you drink and drive in San Diego your chance of getting caught is excellent.

Well, the fact that enforcement is strong does bring me some peace of mind, but not entirely. In recent months I have seen many accidents reported on our local news stations which have involved drunk drivers and innocent lives being taken. As drivers we need to be aware of other drivers on the road and if we see reckless driving or a vehicle that appears to have a drunk driver at the wheel, we need to report it to the authorities immediately and keep our distance from that vehicle. And we need to prevent our friends and family members from driving if they’ve had too much to drink.

San Diego has so many fantastic qualities and finds itself at the top of many “top” lists, but this is not something “America’s finest city” should be known for.


Written by: heather

Categories: Uncategorized

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