Today the U.S. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, and the Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) joined together with local law enforcement officers, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Governors Highway Safety Association to announce the commencement of its holiday campaign aimed to reduce drunk driving. The new 2011 state-by-state drunk driving statistics were also released at the event. These new statistics showed that in 2011, 9,878 people were killed in car crashes associated with drunk driving, and 395 of these deaths occurred during the second half of December alone. These statistics show that the holiday season can be an especially dangerous time on our nation’s roadways due to drunk drivers.
NHTSA’s new 2011 state-by-state drunk driving statistics show declines in 27 states, with four states leading the nation in declines in alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. Texas had the greatest reduction with 57 fewer fatalities. New York, South Carolina, and Tennessee followed, all with more than 35 fewer fatalities. Conversely, the three states with increases of 35 or more were Colorado, Florida and New Jersey. All 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have made it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher.
These new statistics show that the hard work of safety advocates and law enforcement officers across the country has paid off and the result is a welcomed decline in drunk driving deaths in many parts of the country. However, there is still more that can be done and many more lives that can be saved by cracking down on drunk driving.
This year’s holiday campaign is being supported by more than $7 million in national TV and radio advertising featuring NHTSA’s “Drive sober or get pulled over” slogan. The ads, which were first seen on T.V. last summer, feature “invisible” law enforcement officers blending into the environment observing obviously impaired individuals preparing to drive drunk and then apprehending them when they attempt to drive their vehicles. The goal of these ads is to raise awareness and support law enforcement activities in all states in an effort to reduce the number of fatalities caused by drunk driving.
NHTSA offers the following safety advice:
- Plan ahead. If you will be drinking, do not drive. Designate a sober driver or arrange another safe way home.
- If you are impaired, find another way home. Use a taxi, call a sober friend or family member, use public transportation or contact your local sober ride program.
- Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone’s life, and inaction could cost a life.