Statement on New National Academies of Sciences Impaired Driving Report

  • January 17, 2018
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                             

January 17, 2018

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

Statement of Jackie Gillan,

President Emeritus of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,

on New National Academies of Sciences Impaired Driving Report

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) commends the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) for issuing their new report, “Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: A Comprehensive Approach to a Persistent Problem.” I was honored to participate as an advisor to NAS as they compiled research and recommendations for the report focusing on alcohol-impaired driving, the largest cause of motor vehicle fatalities.  Nearly 10,500 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2016, which represents almost a third of all traffic deaths in the United States. That is one death on average every 50 minutes. The report recommends a wide-ranging approach to combating impaired driving, and it is time for our elected officials to take immediate action to stop this unacceptable and unnecessary slaughter occurring every day in every state on our roadways.

One of the most effective strategies to curb these tragic and completely preventable fatalities are tough impaired driving laws that target a range of dangerous and deadly behaviors related to alcohol consumption and driving. For example, laws that lower the legal limit of alcohol-impaired driving have been shown to deter people who have had too much to drink from getting behind the wheel. Advocates congratulates Utah for being the first state in the nation to enact legislation to lower its legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit to .05 percent in 2017. The .05 percent BAC level has been adopted in numerous foreign countries for decades and has improved safety. Furthermore, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued a recommendation calling for states to lower BAC to .05 percent in 2013. The NTSB has been a leader in efforts to educate lawmakers and the public on the significant and compelling research affirming the safety benefits of this recommendation.

There are also technological solutions to reduce drunk driving-related deaths and injuries. Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) prevent individuals from operating a vehicle when their BAC exceeds a certain level. Currently, 30 states and the District of Columbia (DC) have all-offender IID laws. But, that is not enough. We urge the other states to advance and enact these laws as the 2018 state legislative sessions commence this month. According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), nationally, IID laws have stopped more than 1.77 million attempts to drive drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also has found that these laws reduce recidivism for both first-time and repeat drunk driving offenders.

This winning strategy of states enacting proven safety laws and using advanced technological solutions will be the focus of Advocates’ 2018 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws, to be released on Monday, January 22 at 12 noon EST. The report grades the traffic safety laws of all 50 states and DC. Each person needlessly killed in an alcohol-related crash forever changes the lives of families and communities. We have solutions at hand to stop the carnage and it’s past time to implement them.