Advocates’ Statement on National Drugged and Drunk Driving Prevention Month

  • December 3, 2018
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety


December 3, 2018

Contact: Eric Naing 202-408-1711, cell: 217-493-8294,


Statement of Cathy Chase,

President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,

On National Drugged and Drunk Driving Prevention Month

State and Federal Lawmakers Should Keep Holiday Travelers Safe by Advancing Proven and Available Safety Solutions

This National Drugged and Drunk Driving Prevention Month, December 2018, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) urges state and federal policymakers to advance effective solutions to improve safety on our Nation’s roads and highways.  Strengthening state impaired driving laws, boosting research and funding to learn more about drug-impaired driving, and ensuring that proven crash avoidance safety technologies are standard in all vehicles are steps that could be taken today to help keep families safe.

Motor vehicle crashes are a deadly epidemic.  In 2017 alone, 37,133 people died in motor vehicle crashes.  Of these fatalities, 10,847 resulted from crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers.  Drunk driving remains the largest single contributor to road fatalities, followed by lack of seat belt use and speeding.  With the holiday travel season already underway and more families expected to hit the road throughout December, it’s crucial for policymakers to prioritize effective, available tools to prevent crashes now.

Advocates congratulates Utah’s legislature and Governor Gary Herbert for enacting the nation’s first .05 percent BAC law which will take effect this month, a fitting upgrade coinciding with National Drugged and Drunk Driving Prevention Month.  We encourage all states to follow Utah’s leadership and pass a .05 percent BAC law.  Data, research and recommendations from premiere public health and safety organizations including the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the World Health Organization demonstrate this law reduces crashes and saves lives.  States should also pass proven impaired driving laws such as requiring all offenders to use ignition interlock devices before driving, banning open containers of alcohol, and establishing separate offenses or increased penalties for driving while impaired with a child in the vehicle.

Drug-impaired driving is also a serious problem and we need to know more about how substances like marijuana contribute to crashes, fatalities and injuries.  State and federal lawmakers should upgrade data collection and analysis efforts on marijuana-impaired driving, improve testing, and provide more training and resources for law enforcement.  States that have legalized marijuana use or those that are considering doing so should extend zero tolerance laws for those under age 21 to include marijuana, prohibit “open containers” of marijuana and marijuana products while driving, and explicitly prohibit marijuana use and driving to overcome misconceptions that it is safe and legal.

Moreover, while one day driverless cars may be able to prevent some crashes, such as those caused by impaired drivers, the technology simply is not yet ready.  Despite statements from auto industry executives admitting fully autonomous cars are still years away, the U.S. Senate is poised to advance the AV START Act (S. 1885), which would allow potentially millions of driverless cars exempt from federal safety standards to be deployed on public roads and sold in mass quantities.  We call on all Senators to oppose this significantly deficient bill and reject any efforts to attach it to a must-pass funding bill.  If lawmakers and automakers are serious about improving safety now, they should support putting proven safety technologies like automatic emergency braking (AEB), lane departure warning, blind spot detection and advanced headlights into all vehicles as standard equipment, and not just high-end models or luxury packages.

This December as we respect National Drugged and Drunk Driving Prevention Month, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety wishes all families a safe holiday season.  Never drive impaired, buckle up, obey speed limits and all traffic safety laws, and wear motorcycle helmets.