Walking while intoxicated isn't a good idea either
Long-term education and enforcement efforts have produced dramatic decreases in drunken driving over the last two decades, and driving generally has become safer.
The number of traffic fatalities dropped by about 25 percent between 2002 and 2011, from 43,005 in 2002 to 32,367 in 2011, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
It is not, however, safer to walk, according to the Department of Transportation and the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Pedestrian deaths in crashes have risen by about 8 percent since 2009, from 4,109 then to 4,432 in 2011, the DOT reported.
A third of those pedestrians had blood alcohol counts higher than the level for legal driving, and the number was about 50 percent for those in the 24-35 age group. About 13 percent of drivers in pedestrian crashes were under the influence.
About 70 percent of the fatal crashes happened at night. Jonathan Adkins of the Governors Highway Safety Council said the irony is that successful anti-drunk driving campaigns may be encouraging more people to walk home after a night of drinking.
Clearly, the idea of a designated driver is beneficial not only to would-be drunk drivers, but to drunk pedestrians, as well.
Meanwhile, the Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that the use of digital devices also is taking a toll on pedestrians. It reported that at least 1,152 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2011 after being injured while walking and using a digital device.
The NHTSA has begun to promote pedestrian safety, and has made $2 million in safety-promoting grants available to the 22 cities with the most incidents, led by New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. That's not much money but it's a simple message: Pay attention.