In a bold new effort designed to eradicate one of the nation’s deadliest crimes, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
(MADD) launched its national Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, which
aims to literally wipe out drunk driving in the United States.
Despite a more than 40 percent decline in alcohol-related traffic fatalities since MADD was founded in 1980, the threat still remains. Every year, nearly 13,000 people are killed by drunk drivers with an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or above and countless others are injured. This represents more than 1,000 families every month that must live with the tragic consequences of drunk driving.
As a nation, our efforts to prevent drunk driving fatalities have stalled. MADD’s plan to eliminate this public health threat requires new strategies to complement current methods. MADD announced a 4-point plan to lead the nation toward the goals of eliminating drunk driving:
• Intensive high-visibility law enforcement, including twice-yearly crackdowns and frequent enforcement efforts that include sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols in all 50 states.
• Full implementation of current alcohol ignition interlock technologies, including efforts to require alcohol ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunk drivers. A key part of this effort will be working with judges, prosecutors and state driver’s license officials to stop the revolving door of repeat offenders.
• Exploration of advanced vehicle technologies through the establishment of a Blue Ribbon panel of international safety experts to assess the feasibility of a range of technologies that would prevent drunk driving. These technologies must be moderately priced, absolutely reliable, set at the legal BAC limit and unobtrusive to the sober driver.
• Mobilization of grassroots support, led by MADD and its 400+ affiliates, to make the elimination of drunk driving a reality. MADD is uniting drunk driving victims, families, community leaders, and policy makers in the fight to eliminate drunk driving.
With emerging technology, the vision that drunk drivers will not be able to operate vehicles is no longer a dream but, with substantial research, a real possibility. But to achieve it, all four strategies must succeed. Interlock use must expand to all convicted drunk drivers. Emerging technologies must be developed into effective and practical devices that don’t inhibit lawful drivers. High-visibility enforcement must continue. All three of these components must be backed up by effective communications and broad public support.
Highly visible law enforcement crackdowns, including
checkpoints and saturation patrols, are proven to get drunk drivers off
the road. Eighty-seven percent of Americans support the use of
sobriety checkpoints, yet 10 states still prohibit the use of them.
The Campaign will work to make checkpoints legal in all states.
Research shows that the overwhelming majority of people arrested for drunk driving have driven drunk more than 50 times before their first arrest. Two-thirds of those whose licenses are suspended for DUI drive anyway. Interlocks are proven to be up to 90 percent effective while on the vehicle, yet it is estimated that only one in eight convicted drunk drivers each year currently get the device, and most of those are repeat offenders. Sixty-five percent of the public support mandatory interlocks for first time offenders, and 85 percent of the public support mandatory interlocks for repeat offenders.
In addition to stronger enforcement and mandatory interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers, MADD supports the development of new sensor technology already underway that allows a vehicle to recognize if a driver is drunk, and to stop the driver from operating that vehicle. The public is overwhelmingly supportive: by a 4 to 1 margin (58 percent to 16 percent), Americans support advances in smart vehicle technology to prevent drunk driving.
MADD intends to work with law enforcement agencies, judicial organizations, auto manufacturers, insurers, distilled spirits companies, technology companies, safety advocates, health care professionals, and emergency technicians to abolish drunk driving in the U.S. through the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving.