While we have made great strides over the last 30 years, drunk driving is still the deadliest epidemic on our roads, killing 11,000 people each year. And we at DOT remain committed to ending this dangerous and deadly behavior.
One of DOT’s key partners in this fight has been Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), and earlier this month I was pleased to join National President Jan Withers and other MADD officials to celebrate the fifth anniversary of their Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.
As the holiday season gets underway, the event was a chance to remind drivers that the next six weeks are when drunk driving crashes are most prevalent in America.
This was also an opportunity to thank MADD for their tremendous advocacy and leadership, mark our progress in getting drunk drivers off the road, and measure the distance we have yet to travel.
Since MADD’s inception in 1980, drunk driving-related fatalities have declined by more than 40 percent. Because of strong laws, consistent enforcement, and increasing public education, America’s roads are the safest they’ve ever been.
But our work is far from done.
The campaign is focused on three areas: supporting law enforcement and sobriety checkpoints, requiring all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device, and developing advanced technologies to prevent impaired drivers from ever starting their vehicles.
When we started, only one state required interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers – and only three states required interlocks for high blood-alcohol-content offenders. But now, thanks to MADD’s efforts, 32 states require these important safety technologies.
As I've mentioned on this blog, we’ve made significant advances with a new tool called the Driver Alcohol Detection System. This technology would detect whether a driver is over the legal limit, and would prevent that driver from operating his or her vehicle if he or she is under the influence.
We’ve made a lot of progress over the years in our fight to end drunk driving, but the fact remains that impaired drivers are involved in almost one-third of all roadway fatalities, and--on average--drunk driving kills one person every 48 minutes.
That’s why DOT will keep pushing on all fronts to eliminate this deadly crime from our streets, roads, and highways, and we will keep reminding people to drive sober or get pulled over.
Congratulations to MADD on its many years of accomplishment – and on five years of results with the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. We look forward to continuing to work with them in our pursuit of road safety.