In response to new data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showing 9,878 drunk driving fatalities in 2011, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is celebrating an historic milestone in the nation's fight against drunk driving: the first time drunk driving fatalities have fallen below 10,000.
"This drop in deaths is an important milestone in our nation's ongoing fight against drunk driving and is further validation that MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving is working," said MADD National President Jan Withers. "MADD urges state lawmakers to take advantage of recently passed federal funds available for states requiring all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device."
Not only did the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes in 2011 (9,878) drop by 2.5 percent from the number killed in 2010 (10,136), but this decline outpaced the 1.9 percent decrease in overall highway deaths. "Our efforts are paying off in lives saved and injuries prevented," added Withers.
Since MADD was founded in 1980, more than 300,000 lives have been saved as a result of efforts to strengthen drunk driving laws and raise awareness about this 100 percent preventable crime. In addition, since MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving was launched in 2006, we've seen an almost 27 percent decrease in drunk driving fatalities. The campaign includes three important components: 1) supporting high-visibility law enforcement efforts, such as sobriety checkpoints and NHTSA's nationwide 'Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over' campaign; 2) requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers; and 3) supporting the development of technology to automatically determine whether a driver is at or above the legal limit of .08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
"While we have much to celebrate today, we are also reminded of the 9,878 precious lives lost to drunk driving in 2011 and the countless loved ones left behind to pick up the pieces," said Withers. "In addition, we know that preliminary numbers indicate an overall increase for highway deaths in 2012, so MADD is reminding people across the country to remain vigilant in always planning ahead for a sober designated driver during the holidays and year-round."
For more information on MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, visit www.madd.org/campaign.