The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have officially kicked off government’s annual “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” winter holiday crackdown on drunk and drugged driving.
Representatives from local law enforcement, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), join the two federal organizations.
To further deter drunk driving, the NHTSA has released a “Model Guideline for State Ignition Interlock Programs” that will help states develop and implement a breath alcohol ignition interlock program based on 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 DOT Secretary Anthony 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.”
Last year, deaths in crashes involving drunk drivers increased 4.6 percent, taking 10,322 lives compared to 9,865 in 2011. The majority of those crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher – nearly double the legal limit. During last year’s holiday season alone, 830 lives were lost in drunk driving crashes.
Previous NHTSA research of convicted drunk drivers show that those with interlocks installed are 75 percent less likely to repeat the behavior compared to those who do not. The guideline emphasizes several key program features to maximize effectiveness – including legislation, education, program administration, and implementation.
According to NHTSA’s latest issue of Safety 1n Num3ers, the holiday enforcement on drunk drivers comes at a time of year when crashes involving alcohol increase. Over the past decade, almost two of every five (41 percent) deaths that occur around the New Year’s holiday and the Christmas holiday (37 percent) were alcohol-impaired, compared to 31 percent nationally over the past ten years.
The crackdown runs from now through Jan. 1, 2014, and is supported by $7.5 million in national advertising in TV and radio advertising featuring NHTSA’s “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign.