Today, the National Traffic Safety Administration released new data that shows drunk driving and overall traffic fatalities have increased for the second straight year.

MADD is saddened to learn that there were 10,497 lives lost to drunk driving in 2016. Overall, 37,461 people were killed in traffic crashes on our nation’s roads. This unacceptable trend must be reversed.

That’s why MADD is calling on Congress to show leadership on the issue of traffic safety. We have asked the chairmen of the House and Senate Transportation committees to hold hearings to help find a solution that will stop these tragedies.

Moving in the wrong direction

The numbers are heart-wrenching:

  • 20,817 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2015 and 2016
  • Drunk driving fatalities increased by 3.2 percent in 2015 and another 1.7 percent in 2016
  • 72,946 lost their lives on our nation’s roads in 2015 and 2016
  • Traffic fatalities increased by 8.4 percent in 2015 and another 5.6 percent in 2016
  • Drunk driving caused about 29 percent of traffic fatalities during the two-year period

Human error continues to account for about 94 percent of traffic deaths. That is why MADD supports the development of advanced vehicle technology, called Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS, and autonomous vehicle technology. Both of these hold the promise of one day eliminating drunk driving tragedies and other crashes caused by human error.

What’s the solution?

Support for these technologies is one part of MADD’s Campaign To Eliminate Drunk Driving, launched in 2006. The Campaign also supports high-visibility law enforcement, such as sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, and state laws requiring ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders. These are effective countermeasures that can be used now. In fact, drunk driving deaths have decreased by 22 percent since the Campaign launched, but the past two years of increases shows that more must be done.

MADD is counting on our nation’s leaders to help push these initiatives ahead and find solutions to this public health crisis that has largely gone unnoticed. It will take all of us working together to make our roads safe and protect families from the heartache that has already afflicted too many.