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SACRAMENTO (CBS) — Health officials say when it comes to getting behind the wheel drunk or high, California drivers are much less intoxicated than those in the Midwest.
A new study from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services shows that while there has been significant reductions in the rates of drunk driving and drugged driving over the last several years, millions are still driving impaired.
Data collected and combined between 2006 to 2009 shows that 13.2 percent of Americans aged 16 or older — about 30.6 million people — drove under the influence of alcohol in the past year, and 4.3 percent — an estimated 10.1 million people — drove under the influence of illicit drugs in the same time period.
Researchers found the rates of drunk driving in the past year were among the highest in Wisconsin at 23.7 percent and North Dakota at 22.4 percent, while the rates of drugged driving were among the highest in Rhode Island at 7.8 percent and Vermont at 6.6 percent.
California saw its drugged driving rate drop over half a percentage point to 4.4 percent between the years 2002 through 2009, according to the study. The state also ranked about average when it comes to both driving under the influence of both alcohol and illicit drugs.
Out of the ten states with the highest rates of drunk driving, five were in the Midwest: Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
The study, conducted by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), asked persons aged 12 or older if they had driven a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of illicit drugs in the past year, which NSDUH defines as the following: marijuana/hashish, cocaine (including crack), inhalants, hallucinogens, heroin, or prescription-type drugs used for non-medical purposes.
The study also acknowledged a reduction in the rates of impaired driving in the U.S., but cautioned that efforts specifically targeted to 16-to-25-year-olds, including media campaigns, sobriety checkpoints and other prevention efforts are essential to cutting down on nationwide incidents.
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