MADD Challenges Nation to Double Down on Drunk Driving as Fatality Numbers Continue to Top 10,000

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MADD National President Jan Withers issues two national challenges proven to save lives: sobriety checkpoints and ignition interlocks

Jan Withers today in Washington, D.C.

"We aren't saving lives fast enough" - Jan Withers, MADD National President

Today, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) learned that drunk driving fatalities once again topped 10,000 in 2013. Announced by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), drunk driving fatalities decreased from 10,322 in 2012 to 10,076 in 2013. NHTSA also announced that overall traffic fatalities decreased from 33,561 in 2012 to 32,719 in 2013, with 31 percent of all fatalities resulting from a drunk driving crash measured from .08 BAC and above.

“We aren’t saving enough lives fast enough,” said MADD National President Jan Withers. “We are always grateful when fatality numbers decrease and lives are saved, but we are frustrated that more than 10,000 people still die every year and countless loved ones are left behind to rebuild their lives. Every single one of these deaths is preventable, and yet the nation seems to be complacent and even accepting of the fact that one out of three traffic deaths on the roads is caused by a drunk driver.”

Since the launch of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, 24 states have passed an all offender ignition interlock law, and drunk driving deaths are down by more than 24 percent since 2006. The Campaign calls for more high visibility law enforcement through sobriety checkpoints, all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device, and the development of advanced vehicle technology, like the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS), which one day can eliminate drunk driving completely.

“My daughter, Alisa Joy, was 15 years old when she was killed by a drunk driver, and on behalf of the families of the 10,076 DUI deaths last year, each one is unacceptable,” Withers continued. “MADD’s work is not done; the nation’s work is not done; and the public’s works is not done. I challenge everyone to double down on drunk driving and focus on proven-effective measures that save lives.”

Today, Withers issued two national challenges, proven by research to effectively reduce drunk driving fatalities, out of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving:

“First, I would like every law enforcement agency in the nation to participate in the national crackdown by conducting a sobriety checkpoint or saturation patrol while NHTSA is airing the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over ad campaign. We know that this strategy works. Would-be drunk drivers hear the message that if they drive drunk, they will get caught. Would-be drunk drivers then see law enforcement out in force, creating a strong deterrent effect, preventing people from driving drunk in the first place,” Withers explained.

“Second, I challenge every state in the country to pass an ignition interlock law that requires all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device. This year MADD worked to pass new all offender laws in Alabama, Mississippi, Delaware and New Hampshire. This is significant progress and brings the nationwide total to 24 states. My question is, ‘Why haven’t the other 26 states passed similar laws?’ States like Oregon and Arizona have reduced drunk driving deaths by over 40 percent. If we are going to start reducing DUI deaths from over 10,000 per year, it’s time that every state got on board by doing the right thing and passing stronger drunk driving laws.”

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America’s roads. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents® to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every ten minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at
1-877-MADD-HELP. Learn more at http://www.madd.org or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.

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Note to editors: For additional information or to schedule an interview with a MADD representative, please contact Heather Wedel at heather.wedel(at)madd(dot)org or 469-420-4544.

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