The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced several new recommendations related to drunk driving, one of which is to pursue a national .05 BAC per se limit.
MADD has worked for more than 20 years to create a single national BAC limit of .08. I remember standing in the Rose Garden when President Clinton signed this bipartisan legislation into law. The battle was hard fought and a victory we can be proud of. Reaching this consensus spawned the establishment of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving in 2006.
We studied research and best practices to create a program that would save the most lives now, and in the future. With your help, the Campaign is recognized as the premier grassroots movement across the nation.
We have made great strides on all three Campaign initiatives:
• High visibility law enforcement—we support efforts of high visibility law enforcement events, such as Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. These events are savings lives today based on actual data and not just projections
• Mandatory ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers—we have achieved amazing results in advocating for impactful ignition interlock laws. Together we have helped pass ignition interlock laws in every state, and MADD’s efforts to pass ignition interlock laws has resulted in over 100 million Americans who are now better protected in states requiring these devices for all convicted drunk drivers.
• Development of advanced technology—the development of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) is moving forward. Once complete, DADSS will stop a drunk driver with a BAC of .08 or higher from driving the car of tomorrow and will be no more intrusive than airbags.
In addition, in March, the U.S. Congress made good on its commitment to our Campaign by providing over $50 million for Campaign related activities, which includes doubling the budget for the DADSS program. Furthermore, every major traffic safety organization including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the NTSB, AAA, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, and the NFL now supports our Campaign. In short, it’s working.
This support is based on taking these lifesaving actions while maintaining a single national BAC standard. While lowering the standard could reduce fatalities, that benefit would be many years in the future. More importantly, pursuing it would distract from current initiatives that are saving even more lives today!
MADD continues to recommend that the safest course of action is never to drink and drive. In addition, we are committed to serving all victims of substance impaired driving regardless of impairment levels. MADD’s 1-877-MADD-Help Line is available 24 hours a day. MADD serves an impaired driving victim every eight minutes and this will continue until our Campaign is complete and there are no more DUI victims.
We have a thoughtful plan that we believe can eliminate drunk driving entirely. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety believes that ignition interlock laws for all offenders could save 1,000 lives per year and that DADSS could save 7,000 lives per year. This is our goal and a key part of our mission. Let’s stay focused, save the most lives we can now, and eliminate drunk driving as soon as possible.
As always, thanks for all you do to support MADD’s mission. Your dedicated efforts inspire me every day.
This article originally appeared in MADD.org on May 14, 2013. Reprinted with permission of the author.
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About Jan Withers
Jan Withers joined MADD in 1992, after her 15-year-old daughter, Alisa Joy, was killed by an underage drinker who chose to drive after consuming numerous alcoholic beverages. Withers first volunteered by sharing her story and lobbying for tougher legislation. She wanted to make a difference by helping to stop this 100 percent preventable violent crime. Now as National President, Jan Withers speaks to lawmakers across the country about the importance of legislation requiring ignition interlocks (or “in-car breathalyzers”) for all drunk driving offenders, a key part of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. She also advocates for federal legislation that provides research funding for technology that will turn cars into the cure for drunk driving. In addition, Withers continues to raise awareness for MADD’s victim support services, even leading a monthly support group — while also expanding the reach of MADD’s underage drinking prevention programs.