REPORT: Drunk driving a “persistent” public safety issue

Drunk driving — and all traffic fatalities — have increased for two consecutive years. Drunk driving claims 10,000 lives every year and continues to account for nearly one-third of all traffic deaths. Despite nearly four decades of action by Mothers Against Drunk Driving®  the number is moving in the wrong direction.

And MADD isn’t the only organization that is noticing.

Report cites critical public safety challenge.

Last week, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine released a comprehensive report on America’s drunk driving crisis. The nearly 500-page report, “Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: A Comprehensive Approach to a Persistent Problem,” identifies drunk driving as the leading killer on our nation’s roads and a persistent public safety problem.

Their report comes at a crucial time.

“Alcohol-impaired driving remains the deadliest and costliest danger on U.S. roads today,” the report states. “Every day in the United States, 29 people die in an alcohol-impaired driving crash — one death every 49 minutes — making it a persistent public health and safety problem.”

The authors of the report recommended action that affirms the initiatives that launched MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving since 2006:

  • Support law enforcement and sobriety checkpoints
  • Pass ignition interlock laws for all drunk driving offenders in every state
  • Develop passive alcohol detection technology called the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS)

This scientific study shows the Campaign is on the right track.

MADD is fighting for ignition interlocks for all offenders in the 20 states that do not have all-offender laws and defending sobriety checkpoints, which are under siege in states like Missouri and New Hampshire. Future technologies like DADSS hold the promise of eradicating drunk driving and the 100 percent preventable tragedies caused by the decision to drink and drive.

What about .05%?

Media coverage of the report has largely focused on one recommendation: Lowering the legal limit for impairment to .05 blood alcohol concentration (BAC).However, this is where MADD disagrees with the report. As an organization, we believe there are better, more effective pathways to No More Victims®. Instead, our efforts focus on other countermeasures.

Last year Utah became the first state to pass a law lowering the legal threshold to .05 BAC. MADD did not oppose this effort and will continue to monitor any efforts to lower the BAC in other states.

Across the nation, the science is clear.

Sobriety checkpoints reduce drunk driving crashes and fatalities by 20 percent. Ignition interlocks prevent repeat offenses by 67 percent, and states with ignition interlock laws for all drunk driving offenders have reduced drunk driving fatalities by 30 to 50 percent. DADSS is on its way to being deployed in a test program in Virginia. The Campaign is working. The new report illustrates the need for MADD staff, volunteers and partners to remain committed to these lifesaving initiatives.

It will take everyone to move the needle from 10,000 lives lost per year to zero.


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