While we have made great strides in reducing drunk driving over the years, this deadly behavior remains one of the leading causes of death and injury on our nation's roadways, killing nearly 11,000 people each year.
So, as Labor Day weekend approaches, DOT's annual crackdown on drunk driving is again underway. This year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a new nationwide advertising campaign that will support the efforts of law enforcement agencies to let Americans know to "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over."
According to NHTSA data, fatal crashes involving alcohol occur most frequently between midnight and 3:00 a.m. In fact, during that window, two-thirds of all fatal crashes involve a drunk driver, which amounts to one drunk driving fatality every 23 minutes.
I hope you agree with me that this is unacceptable. Across the country, more than ten thousand law enforcement agencies do agree, and that's why their annual enforcement crackdown is particularly focused on nighttime driving.
“High visibility law enforcement is an important part of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving,” said MADD National President Jan Withers. “MADD is proud to partner with NHTSA and the heroes who keep our roads safe to remind the public to Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
As NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said, "Law enforcement officers are out in force, cracking down on anyone who breaks the law and drives drunk. You may not see them, but they will see you."
I cannot thank our safety partners in law enforcement enough for their support in this fight, and I welcome the new campaign from NHTSA. Now it's time for everyday Americans to do their part. These deaths are 100 percent preventable, but only if we can get drivers to stop getting behind the wheel when they're impaired.
Administrator Strickland has the best advice to follow: "If you've had too much to drink, don't even think about getting behind the wheel."