On average, a person in the United States is killed in a vehicle crash involving alcohol every 50 minutes. We have seen too many lives cut short by impaired driving, and too many drivers continue to put themselves and others at risk every day. During National Impaired Driving Prevention Month, we reemphasize that impaired driving is never acceptable. We recognize that we can eliminate impaired driving through our choices, and we pledge to make the right choice by driving sober.
December is National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month (3D Month), which is supported by both public and private sector organizations devoted to preventing impaired-driving crashes. To achieve the national health objective, communities like our own need to develop comprehensive and effective strategies to prevent alcohol-impaired driving. The Center For Disease Control (CDC) has determined that carefully planned and well-executed mass media campaigns that attain sufficient audience exposure and are implemented in conjunction with other ongoing prevention activities are effective in reducing alcohol-impaired driving.
Forty years ago, alcohol was a factor in almost two-thirds of all traffic fatalities. Through the tireless efforts of States, communities, and advocacy organizations, we have made tremendous progress in reducing impaired driving and protecting the American people. Unfortunately, for the second consecutive year, we have seen an increase in the number of alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities on America’s roadways. In 2016, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes, accounting for 28 percent of all traffic fatalities. We must reverse this trend.
How Can We Prevent Impaired Driving?
December seems particularly suited to this observation because traffic fatalities that involve impaired drivers increase significantly during the Christmas and New Year’s holiday period. On average, 25 people were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes per day during December 2010. Young adults are among those at greatest risk for driving impaired. During December 2010, drivers 21 to 34 years old were alcohol impaired and involved in fatal crashes at a higher percentage than any other age group.
Six primary interventions determined to be effective include:
- sobriety checkpoints,
- 0.08g/dL blood alcohol concentration laws,
- minimum legal drinking age laws,
- zero-tolerance laws for young or inexperienced drivers,
- school-based approaches to reduce riding with drinking drivers, and
- some types of server-intervention training programs.
Comprehensive approaches that implement several interventions simultaneously will further reduce alcohol-impaired driving.
Why Do We Recognize National Impaired Driving Prevention Month?
A 2010 survey by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) revealed that 13.2 percent of all people aged 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol and 4.3 percent drove under the influence of illicit drugs during the past year. Furthermore, rates of impaired driving differed dramatically by age. In an average year, 30 million Americans drive drunk, and 10 million Americans drive impaired by illicit drugs.
Drinking and driving affects all Americans. In 2012, 4.2 million adults reported having driven at least once within a 30-day span while impaired by alcohol. Driving while impaired, even after one drink, can dramatically change the lives of drivers, passengers, innocent bystanders, and their loved ones. My Administration is committed to raising awareness about the dangers of impaired driving and to eliminating it from our communities. Additionally, by reducing hundreds of harmful regulations, we are supporting our innovative American companies as they create new technology that can help us address impaired driving, from ride-hailing services to advanced vehicle technology. My Administration is also providing vital resources to law enforcement to support their efforts to keep our surroundings safe.
Ultimately, the responsibility for preventing impaired driving lies with each of us. We care for our loved ones when we keep them safe and prevent them from taking the wheel after drinking alcohol. By taking action to educate our fellow Americans, through coordinated efforts with family, friends, neighbors, schools, churches, and community organizations, we can reduce deaths and accidents and personal injuries arising from impaired driving.