West Virginia volunteer Jody Miller presents the award to Sen. Capito for her commitment to saving lives with auto technology
Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) has recognized U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) with its “Legislative Hero” award for her commitment to saving lives by advancing automotive safety technology. The award was presented at Sen. Capito’s Charleston, West Virginia, office by MADD volunteer and Triadelphia resident Jody Miller, accompanied by MADD West Virginia staff.
MADD’s Legislative Hero award officially thanks and recognizes Capito for the crucial leadership she exercised to advance the drunk driving prevention technology rulemaking provision in the recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The motor vehicle safety standard that will result from that rulemaking will save more than 9,400 lives a year, according to a study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and will ultimately lead to an end to drunk driving.
“Senator Capito’s support for this drunk driving prevention technology standard will help save thousands of lives,” said Miller, whose daughter Heather Miller was killed in 2008 in an alcohol-related crash. “My Heather was only 21 years old when she was killed. She would still be with us today if the vehicle she was riding in had been equipped with technology to stop the driver from operating it. Thanks to Senator Capito’s help in moving this standard forward, thousands of other mothers will one day be spared from receiving the dreaded news that their daughter or son was lost in an alcohol-related crash.”
In the U.S., someone dies in a drunk driving crash every 52 minutes. Drunk driving crashes account for more than a quarter of U.S. traffic deaths. In 2019, DUI crashes killed more than 10,000 people and injured another 300,000. Alcohol-related deaths spiked by 9% in 2020 compared to 2019, even as vehicle miles traveled dropped by more than 430 billion miles during the pandemic. And an estimated 20,160 people died on America’s roads in the first half of 2021, which was an 18.4% increase over the first half of 2019, largely due to speeding, impaired driving and not wearing seatbelts.
The advanced technology provision in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which passed November 5, 2021, and was signed into law by President Biden on November 15, 2021, is the most significant lifesaving legislation in MADD’s 41-year history. The law directs the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate a rulemaking process and set the final standard within three years for impaired driving safety equipment on all new vehicles. Automakers are then given two to three years to implement the safety standard.
New cars equipped with the NHTSA-directed technology could start rolling off the assembly line as soon as 2026 or 2027, if NHTSA adheres to the statutory timeline required by the law. NHTSA will evaluate technologies that may include:
- Driving performance monitoring systems that monitor the vehicle movement with systems like lane departure warning and attention assist;
- Driver monitoring systems that monitor the driver’s head and eyes, typically using a camera or other sensors;
- Alcohol detection systems that use sensors to determine whether a driver is drunk and then prevent the vehicle from moving.
“We are hopeful that Senator Capito will join MADD in urging Secretary of Transportation Buttigieg and NHTSA to strictly adhere to the regulatory timeframe in the new law,” added Miller. “Any delay would mean more deaths at the hands of drunk drivers.”
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.