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Data released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) highlighted that traffic deaths increased last year for the first time since 2005. Drunk driving deaths increased, too. 

The NHTSA report highlighted the following:

  • The majority of drunk driving crashes involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher—nearly double the legal limit.
  • Pedestrian fatalities increased for the third straight year. Many of those deaths involved alcohol-impaired pedestrians.
  • Motorcycle rider fatalities increased for the third consecutive year. Most weren’t wearing helmets.
  • Distracted driving deaths decreased slightly but injuries increased 9 percent.
  • Two-thirds of people killed in nighttime crashes were not wearing seat belts.

Where’s the outrage?

As stated above, high BAC drivers are responsible for a disproportionate share of the drunk driving deaths on our roads. Together with repeat offenders, these dangerous drivers are often referred to as hardcore drunk drivers. For more than 20 years, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility has been researching, advocating for, and assisting in the implementation of policies and practices proven to reduce alcohol-impaired driving fatalities. We have focused our attention on these hardcore drunk drivers, who drive with a BAC of .15 or above, who do so repeatedly as demonstrated by having more than one impaired driving arrest, and who are highly resistant to changing their behavior despite previous sanctions, treatment and education. Every convicted drunk driver should be assessed for potential alcohol/drug and mental health issues, sentenced in a way that will lead to rehabilitation, and monitored to ensure that offenders are in compliance with their sanctions. This is simply not done most of the time, and that’s a big reason why drunk driving deaths hover at 10,000 a year.

Where’s the outrage?

It’s not all disappointing news. There were some bright spots in the report. Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., had reductions in impaired driving deaths and 13 states and Washington, D.C., experienced reductions in overall traffic fatalities. What is disappointing, however, is that after one day’s coverage, the media and the American public moved on with nothing more than a shrug and a sigh.

Where’s the outrage?

Steady progress has been made over the years at significantly reducing deaths on our nation’s roadways and traffic fatalities remain at historic lows, but this is little consolation to the families who lost loved ones on our roads last year. The most recent NHTSA report is a setback and a wake-up call for the nation.

But, where’s the outrage?

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, funded for more than 20 years by distillers, is committed to fighting drunk driving. For more information on our work and solutions go to www.responsibility.org