One person is killed every 52 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States, and numbers are even more stark during the holidays, a period when the roads are particularly dangerous.
To help improve safety for all road users, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) earlier this month launched its annual holiday impaired driving enforcement campaigns to help raise awareness about the deadly consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol, and to encourage sober driving.
“The tragic loss of life from driving impaired, whether under the influence of alcohol or drugs, is 100% preventable,” Steven Cliff, NHTSA’s deputy administrator, said in a statement. “It is illegal in every state,” the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. “I urge everyone to plan for a sober ride home.”
About one-third of all traffic crash fatalities in the United States involve drunk drivers, according to the federal agency; in 2019, 10,142 people were killed in motor vehicle crashes that involved an alcohol-impaired driver.
As part of the campaigns, “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “If You Feel Different, You Drive Different; Drive High – Get a DUI,” law enforcement officers will be working with their communities through January 1, 2022, to take impaired drivers off the roads. A new public service video is part of the initiative.
Additionally, nighttime is a particularly dangerous time to be on the roads: the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2019 was 3.3 times higher at night than during the day, according to federal data.
NHTSA urges everyone to plan ahead, designate a sober driver, use public transportation, or call a ride sharing service or cab to make sure you get home safely. If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact 911.
In addition to impaired driving crashes, other factors can cause fatal outcomes. Overall, nearly 800 people may die on roads over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday periods, the National Safety Council estimated. That number would likely be significantly higher if not for seat belts, the nonprofit advocacy group said.
“This holiday season, I urge every person on the road to take safety personally and focus on making it home safely to celebrate and make memories with loved ones,” Lorraine Martin, the National Safety Council’s president and chief executive.
“We can all do our part by buckling up, driving sober, slowing down, avoiding distractions and looking out for one another.”