The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s President and CEO Ralph Blackman spoke at the National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) Reaching Zero summit today. Reaching Zero represents a renewed focus on the deadly problem of impaired driving from the NTSB. Even as impaired driving deaths reach all-time lows, it remains a widespread problem.

Our contribution to the Reaching Zero summit focused on hardcore drunk drivers.  Hardcore drunk drivers are those with BAC of .15% and above, or those arrested multiple times for drunk driving.  High BAC and repeat DWI offenders are involved in the majority of fatal alcohol-impaired driving crashes each year, a trend that has remained relatively unchanged for more than a decade. 

We’ve put forth a five-pronged approach that we think will result in dramatically fewer deaths nationwide due to hardcore drunk drivers:

  • Behavioral change: Combine technology with efforts to change behavior. Assess DWI offenders’ problems in order to rehabilitate them while protecting the public.  DWI courts and staggered sentencing have been incredibly effective in this regard.
  • Supervise offenders: Hardcore drunk drivers are good at manipulating the system and do not follow through with court orders.  Effective supervision and the resources to carry it out are of critical importance.
  • Education: DWI cases are among the most complex cases to resolve.  Ongoing education of criminal justice practitioners is vital to continued progress.
  • An individualized approach: Individualized sentencing and rehabilitation must be a priority for hardcore drunk drivers.  A one size fits all approach does not work.
  • Better data: We need a more accurate measure of the problem in order to focus on better solutions.  As safer cars and safer roads lead to fewer deaths, we should explore whether fatality statistics alone are still the best measurement to base policy decisions.

We were honored to be included in the NTSB’s Reaching Zero summit, and remain committed to working with them and others in finding a solution to impaired driving.