Drunk Driving Deaths Spiked by 14% During Pandemic Despite Reduced Traffic

DALLAS – Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is horrified by the drastic and unacceptable increase in the loss of life on America’s roads during the pandemic, when fewer cars were on the road. According to new data released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), alcohol-related deaths spiked 14% from 2019 to 2020 while vehicle miles traveled decreased by 11%.

The 11,654 people killed in alcohol-related crashes is the most since 2008. Overall, traffic crashes killed 38,824 people, more than any year since 2007. According to NHTSA, 45% of traffic deaths involved at least one of three hazardous behaviors: impaired driving, speeding or not wearing a seat belt.

“It’s heartbreaking to learn that in addition to the tragedy and disruption caused by the pandemic, families and communities are being irreparably traumatized by the 100% preventable, violent crime of drunk driving,” said MADD National President Alex Otte. “NHTSA’s new data shows the human cost of complacency and the need for drunk driving prevention technology on all new vehicles and increased equitable traffic safety enforcement.”

MADD urges Secretary Buttigieg to convene a national Call to Action meeting as soon as possible to implement the new National Roadway Safety Strategy, which must include swift implementation of the Congressionally mandated rulemaking to require technology in all new cars that will prevent drunk driving, as well as actions to increase fair and just traffic safety enforcement.

As part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act signed into law on November 15, NHTSA must initiate a rulemaking and set a standard within three years for passive drunk driving prevention technology in all new cars. Automakers then have three years to implement the standard. MADD worked closely with Congress and partners to help pass this lifesaving bipartisan legislation. When implemented, passive drunk driving prevention technology has the potential to save more than 9,400 lives and countless injuries.

“Each year we wait for advanced technology in cars, the more devastating this public safety crisis is for every one of us,” Otte said. “Drunk driving can impact any one of us at any time. We clearly need the help of advanced technology, law enforcement, and our partners in educating everyone to make the safe choice to never drive after consuming alcohol or other impairing drugs.”

For more information about passive drunk driving prevention technology, visit https://www.madd.org/get-involved/haltact

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50 percent and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.