Alcohol and driving do not mix. And that is the message that the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) aims to repeat through its annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” holiday season clampdown on drunk and drugged driving now taking place.
Drive Sober Campaign
Last week, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator David Strickland were joined with representatives from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), law enforcement officials, and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) to launch this year’s campaign. Also, the NHTSA released a “Model Guideline for State Ignition Interlock Programs,” what has been designed to assist states establish and put into action a breath alcohol ignition interlock program. That program is derived from what the NHTSA says are “highly successful practices from the U.S. and around the world.”
“With the help of our law enforcement partners, we’re sending a message across the country, today and throughout the holiday season – Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” said Secretary Foxx. “And this year, with the release of our model guidelines for ignition interlock programs, we’re helping states improve their efforts to enforce safe driving among convicted offenders, which is crucial to ending these unnecessary deaths.”
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Holiday Season Crash Deaths
In 2012, crash deaths attributed to drunk drivers increased by 4.6 percent, accounting for 10,322 lives lost compared to 9,865 deaths in 2011. Most of those crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher or nearly double the legal (0.08) limit. During the 2012 holiday season, 830 lives were lost in drunk driving crashes.
The NHTSA has spearheaded research of convicted drunk drivers, showing that those with interlocks installed are 75 percent less likely to repeat the behavior compared to those who do not. The guideline emphasizes a number of significant program features to increase effectiveness, such as legislation, education, program administration, and implementation.
“It is unacceptable and downright offensive that anyone would get behind the wheel drunk, let alone at twice the legal limit,” said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland. “I urge the states to adopt our new guidelines to protect sober motorists and ensure that individuals convicted of drunk driving learn from their mistakes.”
NHTSA data also shows that over the past decade, 41 percent of traffic deaths that occur around the New Year’s holiday and 37 percent of the road deaths around the Christmas holiday were alcohol-impaired, compared to 31 percent nationally over the past 10 years.
Public Service Announcement
The clampdown will continue through Jan. 1, 2014, and is augmented by a $7.5 million national advertising campaign with radio and television spots. The ads are designed to raise awareness as well as to support local law enforcement campaigns nationwide. NHTSA’s Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over message will also be featured in a new public service announcement featuring Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures/Columbia Pictures’ RoboCop, in theaters February 12, 2014.
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