(NHTSA news release) The U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration this week joined with local law enforcement officers, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Center for DWI Courts to mark the official start of its annual anti-drunk driving campaign: "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”
According to the NHTSA news release:
The nationwide crackdown comes as startling new agency statistics show 70 percent of deaths in drunk driving crashes in 2010 involved drivers with blood alcohol levels that were nearly twice the .08 legal limit.
More than 10,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country will support the campaign beginning August 17 and continuing through the Labor Day holiday weekend.
"Thanks to the dedication and hard work of law enforcement and safety partners like MADD, we've made significant progress in reducing roadway deaths in recent years,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "But drunk driving remains a serious, unacceptable threat to our families and our communities. Our campaign is clear – if you choose to drive drunk, you will be held accountable."
New NHTSA research indicates the 10,228 alcohol-impaired fatalities in 2010 accounted for nearly one out of three highway deaths on U.S. roads – the equivalent of one death every 51 minutes. During the same time period, more than two thirds of drunk driving deaths (7,145 or 70%) involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher. Overall, the most frequently recorded BAC among drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes was .18 BAC.
As part of its overall program to address drunk driving, NHTSA has also worked with the National Center for DWI Courts to help develop new ignition interlock guidelines, which were released last month. Alcohol ignition interlock systems require drivers to blow into a breathalyzer-like device – usually installed on a vehicle's dashboard – to ensure the individual is sober before allowing the vehicle to start. The new guidelines help familiarize courts that adjudicate "driving while intoxicated” cases with ignition interlock systems and applicable state laws.
"The latest numbers tell us people are not only making poor decisions and drinking and driving – they are getting deeply intoxicated before getting behind the wheel,” said NHTSA Administrator David L. Strickland. "The best way to keep our roadways safe is to ensure that law enforcement and other part. ners have the information they need to tackle the problem head on. With these guidelines, DWI courts now have an important tool to help keep drunk drivers from putting others at risk.”
Read the entire NHTSA news release HERE.