With the holidays upon us, millions of Americans are taking to the road. Across the country folks are enjoying time-honored traditions like office parties with colleagues, visits with friends, and trips home to celebrate with family. But wherever our holiday traditions take us, driving sober must be part of the plan.
So this morning, I stood with National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland, MADD President Jan Withers, and law enforcement officers from Arlington County, Virginia, to announce that, during the next few weeks, we’ll be conducting a nationwide crackdown on drunk driving. This push will involve thousands of law enforcement agencies throughout the country.
Safety advocates and drivers across America know that getting behind the wheel means taking personal responsibility. And that means:
- Never getting behind the wheel after drinking;
- Making sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing a seatbelt; and
- Turning off the cell phone and putting it in the glove box.
- Tough laws
- Consistent enforcement
- Ongoing public education.
And they send a simple message: Driving safely means driving sober. Period.
Last week, we reported America’s 2010 traffic safety numbers. And for the fifth straight year, drunk driving–related fatalities have declined. Like the decline in roadway fatalities overall, this is a tribute to the unrelenting work of our safety agencies and partner organizations over decades, especially MADD.
In fact, during the three decades since the first Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Candi Lightner and Cindy Lamb, mobilized their movement of parents, teachers, law enforcement officers, and elected officials we’ve seen the numbers of drunk driving-related deaths fall by an astonishing 52 percent.
But our work isn’t done. Not when impaired drivers are involved in almost one-third of all roadway fatalities. Not when more than 10,000 people were killed last year by drunk drivers.
At DOT, safety is our focus year-round. But during the holidays, we’re stepping up our efforts to get drunk drivers off our roads.
And we need your help. I have only one wish this holiday season: safety for all travelers. But road safety doesn't start with DOT or NTHSA. It starts with you.