Washington, D.C. — The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that 35,092 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2015. Drunk driving was involved in 10,265 traffic fatalities, or 29.2 percent of all traffic deaths.
Despite a drop in the percentage of traffic fatalities caused by drunk driving, the NHTSA data shows that much more work must be done to protect our nation’s roadways. Drunk driving still claimed the lives of 10,265 people in 2015 — a 3.2 percent increase over 2014, when the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes dropped below 10,000 for only the second time (the first was in 2011).
“We must do more to prevent these 100 percent preventable tragedies,” said MADD National President Colleen-Sheehey-Church. “Losing 10,265 people is completely unacceptable, and we must double down on our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving – MADD’s blueprint for a nation of No More Victims.”
Ignition interlock laws are a key feature of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving, now in its 10th year. Since the Campaign was launched in 2006, drunk driving deaths are down by 24 percent. The newly released NHTSA data shows a continued decline in states with ignition interlock laws.
According to the NHTSA data, drunk driving deaths in West Virginia have been reduced by 50 percent since enacting an ignition interlock law for all offenders in 2008. The reduction in just one year — from 2014 to 2015 — was 15 percent. New Mexico passed its all-offender ignition interlock law in 2005, and drunk driving deaths are down 37 percent, with a 16.2 percent drop from 2014 to 2015. Kansas also has seen a 37 percent reduction in drunk driving deaths since enacting an all-offender law in 2011, with a 22 percent drop from 2014 to 2015.
Other states with all-offender ignition interlock laws:
Alabama (Effective July 2014): 5% reduction
Arizona (Effective September 2007): 31% reduction
Arkansas (Effective April 2009): 12% reduction
Colorado (Effective January 2009): 14% reduction
Hawaii (Effective January 2011): 23% reduction
Illinois: (Effective January 2009): 13% reduction
Louisiana (Effective July 2007): 33% reduction
Mississippi (Effective October 2014): 16% reduction
Missouri: (Effective March 2014): 9% reduction
Tennessee: (Effective September 2013): 11% reduction
Texas (Effective September 2015): 8% reduction
Utah (Effective July 2009): 12% reduction
Virginia (Effective July 2012): 8% reduction
Washington (Effective January 2009): 19% reduction
Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia have passed ignition interlock laws for all drunk driving offenders. Today, MADD issues a national call to action and challenges every state to pass all-offender ignition interlock laws and improve existing laws to ensure all offenders use an ignition interlock as soon as possible after a drunk driving offense.
MADD also encourages every law enforcement agency to participate in NHTSA’s upcoming Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign to increase enforcement leading up to Labor Day Weekend.
“We know the end of summer is a time of increased celebrations, new starts and highway travel, and we thank our law enforcement heroes for stepping up enforcement during this exciting time of year. Too often, those activities are disrupted by the tragic consequences of drunk driving,” Sheehey-Church said. “Sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols work. They remove dangerous drivers and send a message to would-be drunk drivers that they will be caught.”
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD changed American culture by introducing the “designated driver” in 1986 and related red ribbon awareness campaign Tie One On For Safety® now in its 30th year. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® is marking its 10th anniversary and reducing drunk driving fatalities by 25 percent since its launch. MADD supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, providing a service every four minutes through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Power of Parents® and Power of Youth® programs reduce underage drinking. Learn more by visiting madd.org or calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.
Photo: Justin Lane/EPA