Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its annual report on traffic fatalities for 2015. The bad news is that overall fatalities went up 7.2 percent. Alcohol deaths also went up, but the good news is that for the first time ever drunk driving deaths are below 30 percent of all crashes at 29 percent. Drunk Driving fatalities increased by 3.2 percent, from 9,943 in 2014 to 10,265 in 2015.
As a nation, we must do more to prevent these 100% preventable tragedies. The states that have good interlock laws continue to perform better than the others. We are making progress with our keen focus on our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving and advocating for all offender ignition interlock laws. Since the Campaign was launched 10 years ago, the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes has dropped by 24 percent.
According to the new 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 just from 2014 to 2015 alone 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
MADD also applauds the 28 states and the District of Columbia that have passed all-offender ignition interlock laws. But we want to see every state pass laws that will save lives. This year, MADD calls on the 22 states that don’t have an all-offender ignition interlock law to take action to protect their residents and visitors. We challenge every state with an all-offender law to evaluate and improve existing laws to ensure all offenders use an ignition interlock as soon as possible after a drunk driving offense.
Together, we will create a Nation of No More Victims!
You never know when a few words will make a difference.
It happened a few weeks ago in Denver when I was making the Keynote Speech at the International Association of Police Chiefs Training for Drug Recognition Experts. After my keynote, an officer being further trained on the DRE process came up to me in the hotel. He asked if he could talk to me privately. He was visibly upset, and he said he just wanted to give me a hug and tell me his story.
What he said next shocked me.
Oregon State Police Captain Church Hayes
MADD President Colleen Sheehey-Church
He said that today changed his life. MADD’s message hit him hard.
The officer told me he came to the conference frustrated.
In his words, he had had it. He had made up his mind that after the conference, he would ask for a transfer to another division. Catching and locking up DUI offenders was too hard…..the hours too long…..the defense attorneys too able to rip our officers on the stand, not to mention the too many plea bargains that let the offender just walk.
But after hearing about our commitment and the services provided by MADD and the personal story of my son Dustin, he mind was changed.
He responded to our commitment to the law enforcement community and how we support them, how we have their backs….that MADD will be there for them. In the end, it changed his decision – he was going stay on the DRE Task Force, so he could MAKE A DIFFERENCE AND SAVE LIVES!
You hope your words make a difference. You don’t always know if they did.
But on this day, my words did, and I knew because of his hug, his thanks, his true spirit, and his newfound commitment. It is something I will never forget.
MADD seeks to honor and recognize law enforcement year round and especially near dangerous, busy holidays. That's why we are inviting all law enforcement officials to join us for a free or reduced-price lunch Wednesday, August 31st. Just our way of saying thanks for all their labor. We hopet to see you there.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving applauds the recent landmark decision by Maryland Supreme Court, which advances the prevention of underage drinking by holding adults accountable for illegally providing alcohol to underage drinkers. MADD is proud to have filed an amicus brief in the Nancy Dankos, et al. v. Linda Stapf case, asking the court to hold adults liable for deaths or injuries caused by the underage drinkers.
The Dankos ruling is the result of a tragic case in Maryland that claimed the life of high school football star Steven Dankos, who, along with other friends, climbed into the bed of a pickup truck driven by an intoxicated driver. They had been drinking at a party hosted at the home of Linda Stapf. As a result, Steven’s mother sued Ms. Stapf.
The court’s ruling in favor of Ms. Dankos puts so-called “cool parents” on notice that they will be held morally, criminally and now financially responsible for the consequences of their actions. Not only does the court’s decision establish proximate causation when “cool parents” intentionally and knowingly allow children to consume alcohol on their premises, but it also removes any issue of contributory negligence on the part of the underage drinker. In other words, “cool parents” may be held 100% responsible.
There is a cultural shift occurring across the country that underage drinking is not cool. It was not cool that Ms. Stapf allowed children to get drunk in her garage. It was not cool that Ms. Stapf allowed high school football star Steven Dankos to get into the back of a truck with a drunk driver. It was not cool that Steven lost his life and Nancy Dankos lost her son at the young age of 17. This landmark decision in Maryland will save the precious lives of children across the country.
MADD will continue to advocate for the criminalization of actions by adults who provide or allow alcoholic beverages at events for underage participants. The 21 minimum drinking age is one of the most researched and reviewed public health laws in our country and has saved about 800 lives per year. MADD encourages all parents to support the 21 drinking age and talk to their kids about the dangers of underage drinking.
Let’s be clear however, underage drinking is an adult problem. In order for those under 21 to obtain alcohol, an adult somewhere must break the law. For parents who provide or permit underage drinking in their home, the case in Maryland and similar cases across the nation are stark reminders of the tragic consequences. MADD takes our mission to prevent underage drinking seriously. As this case reminds us, underage drinking is completely devastating and 100% preventable.
For more information on how to talk to your middle and high schoolers about alcohol, visit www.madd.org/powerofparents.
This past weekend, San Diego was plagued with three alleged drunk driving crashes that ripped apart three separate families - all within hours of each other.
The crashes killed three people, including a victim who may have been trying to stop someone from driving drunk. The devastation took place between Saturday night and Sunday morning.
"This was obviously a devastating weekend for our community, and I only hope it helps the public understand that this problem is real. This problem is relevant. And we need to take action," said MADD San Diego Program Specialist Cristi Walker.
The First Crash
The first crash struck at 7 p.m. Saturday in Ramona when a full-size Chevrolet pickup truck with a 51-year-old male driver struck a late model Buick sedan and a Mini Cooper, according to Channel Seven in San Diego.
The Mini Cooper caught fire, resulting in the death of the driver at the scene. The driver of the Buick sustained non-life threatening injuries, and the truck driver received a broken wrist. Drunk driving became a possible cause after law enforcement officers discovered beer cans in the truck driver's vehicle. He has been arrested on alcohol-related charges, including felony vehicular manslaughter.
The Second Crash
Then, around 1 a.m. Sunday on Camina Ruiz in Mira Mesa, a 21-year-old man t-boned the vehicle of a 19-year-old driver, who was pulling onto the street. The 19-year-old driver died at the hospital. Alcohol is suspected in the crash. The 20-year-old alleged offender received non-life threatening injuries.
The Third Crash
The third crash occurred in Mira Mesa by a hotel, possibly because the victim was trying to STOP someone from drunk driving.
Jonathan Merkley, according to witnesses, stood in front of a car in an effort to prevent a friend from driving after drinking. The suspect got into his vehicle, allegedly hit Merkley, and fled the scene.
How many more crashes will take place tomorrow or the next day? We have the ability to stop this 100% preventable crime. Isn't it time we say enough is enough?
Let's prevent this type of weekend from reoccurring.