Drunk Driving Deaths and Overall Traffic Deaths Increase for Second Straight Year

WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 6, 2017) — Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is calling on Congress to hold hearings to address the rising number of tragedies occurring on our nation’s roadways, following today’s announcement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that overall traffic fatalities and those caused by drunk driving increased for the second straight year.

According to NHTSA, 37,461 people were killed in traffic crashes in 2016, and drunk driving was involved in 10,497 traffic fatalities. Drunk driving fatalities are up 1.7 percent over 2015, when 10,320 people were killed in alcohol-related crashes. The new data shows a 5.6 percent increase in overall traffic fatalities — up from 35,485 traffic fatalities in 2015. The overall traffic fatality increase of 8.4 percent in 2015 was the largest increase since 1963 to 1964, and alcohol-related fatalities increased in 2015 by 3.2 percent.

“For the second year in a row, we are seeing increases in highway deaths — both overall and alcohol-related — after years of steady decline. We cannot stand by while more families are left to pick up the pieces after these tragedies,” said MADD National President Colleen Sheehey-Church. “Everyone needs to step up to find a solution to this national crisis.”

MADD remains laser focused on the Campaign To Eliminate Drunk Driving, launched in 2006. The Campaign supports high-visibility law enforcement, such as sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, state laws requiring ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders, development of advanced vehicle technology and public support for these initiatives. 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.

Ignition interlock laws are a key feature of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. The newly released NHTSA data shows a continued decline in states with ignition interlock laws. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have passed ignition interlock laws for all drunk driving offenders. MADD calls on every state to pass all-offender ignition interlock laws and improve existing laws to ensure all offenders use an ignition interlock as soon as possible after a drunk driving offense.

MADD also encourages every law enforcement agency to participate in NHTSA’s upcoming

Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign to increase enforcement in December.

“While vehicle safety is improving, 94 percent of all traffic deaths are caused by human error,” Sheehey-Church wrote in a letter to members of Congress. “MADD is concerned that the trending increase in highway deaths points to a public health crisis that has largely gone unnoticed.”

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 350,000 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.