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The numbers are in!

Yesterday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its annual traffic fatality data that showed the lowest number of traffic fatalities in more than 60 years – a decrease from last year of almost two percent.

But, the news is even better for those of us focused on fighting impaired driving; drunk driving deaths decreased at an even faster pace than overall traffic fatalities, declining 2.5 percent to 9,878 - the lowest number of alcohol-impaired driving deaths on record.

The 2011 numbers mark the sixth straight year of steady declines in alcohol-impaired fatalities.  There are many factors at play.  Law enforcement is on the front lines.  Judges, prosecutors, and probation and parole professionals are all working overtime to make sure the judicial system works. And treatment and aftercare are a must to reduce recidivism.  Of course, no one should be satisfied when there are still lives to be saved.  Public awareness campaigns must continue to inform the public, education efforts should remind motorists and community events should rally everyone around the common goal of fewer deaths on our highways.

Buckle up, put your phone away and make a plan to never drive drunk.  Not during the holiday season or anytime throughout the year.