Drunk Driving Fatalities Decreased in 2008, Report Shows
According to DOT, "the number of overall traffic fatalities reported in 2008 hit their lowest level since 1961 with 37,261 deaths and that fatalities in the first three months of 2009 continue to decrease. The fatality rate, which accounts for variables like fewer miles traveled, also reached the lowest level ever recorded."
New Mexico and Arizona recorded the biggest drunk driving fatalities reductions, with 20 and 21 percent drops respectively, as both states have all offender ignition interlock laws. The largest number of fatalities by far was recorded by Texas, which is maintaining its poll position for a couple of years now.
According to the MADD National President, Laura Dean-Mooney, the situation in Texas was influenced by defense attorneys, segments of the alcohol industry and lack of leadership from the legislature and other elected officials.
"The recession has had a major impact on these numbers. As the economy rebounds these gains could be erased unless we have strong laws, strong funding and strong enforcement as called for in MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving," Dean-Mooney was quoted as saying in a press release.
According to a 2009 Pacific Institute for Research & Evaluation report issued recently alcohol-related traffic crashes cost Americans nearly $130 billion dollars.
As for MADD’s Eliminate Drunk Driving Campaign, some of its major provisions are scheduled to be included in the House Committee version of the next highway reauthorization bill. Dean-Mooney insisted on thanking to House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman Jim Oberstar and Ranking Member John Mica as well as Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Peter DeFazio and Ranking Member Jim Duncan, for their support.