"We cannot overlook an epidemic of alcohol-related deaths, equivalent to two 757 passenger jets crashing each week for an entire year," Hamilton said. "Today alone, an estimated 48 people in the U.S. will senselessly die - and not because of terrorists attacks or terminal illness; the culprit is alcohol-impaired driving." MADD statistics show that each year half a million other people are injured in alcohol-related crashes.
While personal responsibility is an important factor, research shows that the most effective deterrents to drunk driving are implemented by legislators and carried out through law enforcement and our judicial system. The passage and enforcement of lower illegal drunk driving limits to .08 percent blood alcohol concentration and other important laws no doubt contributed to the recent progress but there is still much work to be done to rid our roadways of drunk drivers.
Congress now has a historic opportunity to draft a lifesaving roadmap for the nation with the reauthorization of the Transportation Equity Act of the 21st Century (TEA-21), a multi-year, multi-billion dollar highway funding bill. Related newly-introduced legislation backed by MADD would create stricter penalties for repeat offenders and other higher-risk drunk drivers (SB 1141 and HB 2681) and establish more funds for much-needed sobriety checkpoints and other DUI crackdowns (Senate Bill 1139). Now is the time for action and MADD will be working to ensure that drunk driving victims and survivors’ voices are heard.