Room For Debate: Is Lowering the Blood Alcohol Limit the Best Way to Minimize Traffic Fatalities?
May 17, 2013
This week the National Transportation Safety Board recommended lowering the blood alcohol limit from 0.08 percent — the measurement now for 13 years — to 0.05 percent. In their Room for Debate section, The New York Times invited knowledgeable outside contributors to answer the question: “Is lowering the blood alcohol limit the best way to minimize traffic fatalities?”
Jan Withers, MADD National President, shared her opinion in her article, “Other Measures Are Just as Important.” She states that “MADD’s priorities are to focus on all of the initiatives that are currently in the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®, and not just single out the lowering of the current blood alcohol concentration level. The campaign acknowledges countermeasures in use today, sets legislative goals for tomorrow and supports future technology to eliminate drunken driving. When fully implemented, MADD’s campaign is expected to save 8,000 lives per year.”
Other debaters include:
- Deborah A. P. Hersman, National Transportation Safety Board
- Barron H. Lerner, author, “One for the Road"
- Gary Biller, National Motorists Association
- Kathryn Stewart, Safety and Policy Analysis International
You can see the full discussion on nytimes.com, here.
MADD Continues Focus on Proven Drunk Driving Prevention Efforts to Save Lives and Prevent Injuries
May 14, 2013
Today, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) announced several new recommendations related to drunk driving, one of which is to pursue a national .05 BAC per se limit.
MADD has worked for more than 20 years to create a single national BAC limit of .08. I remember standing in the Rose Garden when President Clinton signed this bipartisan legislation into law. The battle was hard fought and a victory we can be proud of. Reaching this consensus spawned the establishment of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving in 2006.
We studied research and best practices to create a program that would save the most lives now, and in the future. With your help, the Campaign is recognized as the premier grassroots movement across the nation.
We have made great strides on all three Campaign initiatives:
- High visibility law enforcement—we support efforts of high visibility law enforcement events, such as Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over. These events are savings lives today based on actual data and not just projections
- Mandatory ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers—we have achieved amazing results in advocating for impactful ignition interlock laws. Together we have helped pass ignition interlock laws in every state, and MADD’s efforts to pass ignition interlock laws has resulted in over 100 million Americans who are now better protected in states requiring these devices for all convicted drunk drivers.
- Development of advanced technology—the development of the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) is moving forward. Once complete, DADSS will stop a drunk driver with a BAC of .08 or higher from driving the car of tomorrow and will be no more intrusive than airbags.
In addition, in March, the U.S. Congress made good on its commitment to our Campaign by providing over $50 million for Campaign related activities, which includes doubling the budget for the DADSS program. Furthermore, every major traffic safety organization including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the NTSB, AAA, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association, and the NFL now supports our Campaign. In short, it’s working.
This support is based on taking these lifesaving actions while maintaining a single national BAC standard. While lowering the standard could reduce fatalities, that benefit would be many years in the future. More importantly, pursuing it would distract from current initiatives that are saving even more lives today!
MADD continues to recommend that the safest course of action is never to drink and drive. In addition, we are committed to serving all victims of substance impaired driving regardless of impairment levels. MADD’s 1-877-MADD-Help Line is available 24 hours a day. MADD serves an impaired driving victim every eight minutes and this will continue until our Campaign is complete and there are no more DUI victims.
We have a thoughtful plan that we believe can eliminate drunk driving entirely. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety believes that ignition interlock laws for all offenders could save 1,000 lives per year and that DADSS could save 7,000 lives per year. This is our goal and a key part of our mission. Let’s stay focused, save the most lives we can now, and eliminate drunk driving as soon as possible.
As always, thanks for all you do to support MADD’s mission. Your dedicated efforts inspire me every day.
MADD National President
Click here to read MADD's statement regarding NTSB recommendations
Click here to read the press release
What it Means to be a Mother
May 14, 2013
By Karolyn Nunnallee, whose daughter Patty was killed in the Kentucky bus crash. Karolyn also served as MADD National President from 1998 to 1999.
My most cherished role in life is being a mother. I am a mother to my daughter, Jeanne, and I had the privilege of being a mother to my daughter, Patty, who died when she was just 10 years old. She was one of the victims in the 1988 Kentucky bus crash that still today remains the worst drunk driving crash in our nation’s history.
On May 14, 1988, a school bus carrying 67 people, nearly all of them children, was returning home from a church youth group field trip to an amusement park. While they were driving through Carroll County, Ky., a drunk driver driving on the wrong side of the road crashed into the bus head-on, killing 24 children, the bus driver and two adult chaperones, and injuring 34 others.
My Patty was the youngest victim of this horrific crash. Needless to say, in an instant, my world was turned upside down. Parents are not supposed to bury their children. They are supposed to pick out frilly dresses, not caskets. They are supposed to go to graduations and weddings, not funerals. As a mother, I was nearly frozen with grief, but as a human being, I decided that I was not going to let Patty, and the 60 others who died and were injured, be forgotten. How could so much devastation happen as a result of one person’s choice to drink and drive? I knew I needed to do something.
I decided to get involved with Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and help put a face on the many lives affected by drunk driving. I served as MADD National President from 1998 to 1999, traveling the country and meeting with lawmakers to strengthen our country’s drunk driving laws. In 2000, I had the honor of being present in the White House Rose Garden when President Clinton signed into law the lifesaving .08 BAC (blood alcohol concentration) limit for drunk driving. And to this day, the national .08 per se law is one of the single most lifesaving laws on our books.
States have passed thousands of pieces of anti-drunk driving legislation over the past 25 years, but our work is far from finished. Still today, nearly 10,000 people are killed and another 315,000 are injured in drunk driving crashes each year. To look at it another way, 27 people are killed each day in this country — the equivalent of one Kentucky bus crash every single day. We clearly have more to do. No one has the right to endanger the public by getting behind the wheel drunk. Driving is a privilege, NOT a right!
While there are many different ideas about how to stop drunk driving, I know in my heart that we must follow the research in order to save the most lives and prevent the greatest number of injuries. We must have high visibility law enforcement, like sobriety checkpoints and crackdowns. We must also pass ignition interlock laws that require all drunk driving offenders to have these devices in their vehicles as a preventative measure. The driver who killed my daughter was a repeat offender, and perhaps if he had an interlock on his vehicle after his first offense, he would not have re-offended. Lastly, we must support the on-going research efforts to develop a passive in-vehicle technology to prevent a drunk driver from getting on the road.
Patty’s death was a tragedy, but the real tragedy would’ve been if I had never known her at all. I know that positive changes have come out of this tragedy. Great strides have been made in traffic safety over the past 25 years, and it is with great anticipation that I wait to see what the next 25 years will bring. Perhaps I will live to see the day when impaired driving deaths and injuries are a thing we only read about in the history books.
I am honored to be part of a new documentary, IMPACT: AFTER THE CRASH, which gave me and some of the others affected by the Kentucky bus crash, the opportunity to share our stories of loss and healing. And I join with MADD to remember the lives lost and forever impacted, so no other families will have to know the pain we’ve felt since my daughter’s death.
Being a mother means more than just caring for the needs and development of your child. Being a mother means committing yourself to a lifetime of fighting for your child, no matter what obstacles are thrown in your way. In honor of those we’ve lost, it’s time for us to choose to make a change — our children’s lives depend on it.
25 Years Later
May 14, 2013
On May 14, 1988—25 years ago today, a school bus carrying 67 people, nearly all of them children, was returning from a church youth group field trip to an amusement park. While they were driving through Carroll County, KY, a drunk driver driving on the wrong side of the road crashed into the bus head-on. The fiery crash killed 27 people – 24 children, the bus driver and two adult chaperones – and injured 34 others.
With your support, we’ve come a long way in drunk driving awareness, education and prevention in the past 25 years. But we have so much left to do. Still today, 27 people die each day as a result of drunk driving — the equivalent of one Kentucky bus crash every day.
As a part of the crash anniversary, MADD is partnering with the filmmakers behind a new feature documentary film, IMPACT: AFTER THE CRASH, which tells some of the powerful stories of loss and healing through interviews with many of the crash survivors and victims’ family members. MADD, the filmmakers, crash survivors, victims’ families and local residents will hold a public memorial honoring the victims and survivors of the crash. There will also be a private screening of IMPACT, as well as the first public screening of the film.
This week, we honor and remember those impacted by the tragic Kentucky bus crash, and hope that their stories of survivorship will inspire others in their healing journey.