The Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood recently joined with local law enforcement officers, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Governors Highway Safety Association to begin their annual holiday campaign in order to address the issue of drunk driving. During this event, NHTSA released new state-by-state drunk driving statistics from 2011, revealing that 9,878 people were killed in drunk driving crashes and 395 of those crashes occurred in the second half of December alone.
“The holiday season can be an especially dangerous time on our nation’s roadways due to drunk drivers – that’s why law enforcement officers will be out in full force,” said Secretary LaHood. “Our message is simple: drive sober or get pulled over.”
According to the NHTSA’s 2011 drunk driving statistics, more than half of the nation showed declines in drunk driving crashes. The state with the greatest reduction of fatalities was Texas with 57 fewer fatalities than 2010. Other states with more than 30 fewer fatalities were New York, South Carolina and Tennessee.
However, states with increases of 30 or more were Colorado, Florida and New Jersey. Driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher has been outlawed in all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
“Thanks to the hard work of safety advocates and law enforcement officers across the country we’re seeing declines in drunk driving deaths in many parts of the country – but there is still more work to do,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “Ultimately, personal responsibility is critical to improving roadway safety and we urge all motorists to be responsible this holiday season and never, ever drive drunk.”
NHTSA’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign is this year’s winter holiday enforcement theme and is currently being supported by more than $7 million in national TV and radio advertising. Premiering last summer, the advertisements feature “invisible” law enforcement officers observing alcohol-impaired individuals and then arresting them once they attempt to drive their vehicles. The ads are designed to support law enforcement activities and raise awareness in every state to further reduce drunk driving deaths.
“High visibility enforcement efforts, like the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ ad campaign, are a critical part of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving,” said MADD National President Jan Withers. “MADD is proud to join with NHTSA and law enforcement in urging everyone to make a sober designated driver a part of their plans this holiday season.”
The following safety advice was offered by NHTSA:
- Plan ahead. Designate a sober driver or arrange another safe way home, such as a taxi or public transportation, if you decide to drink.
- Be responsible. If you know who has been drinking, do not allow that person to get behind the wheel. Contact law enforcement if you notice impaired drivers on the road. Action, as well as inaction, could cost a life.