MADD Calls on Congress to End the Drunk Driving Epidemic by Enacting Federal Legislation to Require Lifesaving Technology in All New Cars

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Drunk driving claimed the lives of 10,142 people in 2019, accounting for 28 percent of the 36,096 total fatalities, according to new data released today by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Alcohol-related traffic deaths declined 5.3 percent and overall traffic fatalities dropped by 2 percent as fewer vehicle miles were traveled on the nation’s roadways. Drunk driving remains the leading killer on the nation’s roadways.

“We welcome the news that drunk driving deaths were down by 568 in 2019. However, when more than 10,000 preventable deaths continue to occur each year, it is clear that our country falls far short of embracing the key elements of MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving,” said MADD National President Helen Witty. “Our campaign calls for an all-offender ignition interlock law in each state, national and state high visibility enforcement safety campaigns, and rapid implementation of advanced vehicle technology to prevent impaired drivers from operating vehicles.”

MADD strongly backs pending congressional legislation to require NHTSA to conduct a rulemaking that would lead to a mandate for state-of-the-art drunk driving prevention technology in all new cars. By doing so, an estimated 9,400 lives could be saved each year, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

On July 1, 2020, the U.S. House of Representatives enacted a massive transportation bill that included the landmark “Honoring Abbas Family Legacy to Terminate Drunk Driving” (HALT Act). The HALT Act was introduced by Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (Michigan) after a devastating drunk driving crash killed a family of five from her home state – Issam and Rima Abbas and their children Ali, Isabella, and Giselle. The HALT Act was led through the House Energy and Commerce Consumer Protection and Commerce Subcommittee by its chair, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (Illinois).

Similar bipartisan legislation called the RIDE Act was introduced in the Senate by Senators Rick Scott (Florida) and Tom Udall (New Mexico). The RIDE Act was not taken up by Congress in 2020, but Senator Scott has committed to introducing this bill again in 2021.

“Advanced technology holds the key to eradicating the drunk driving epidemic. This is our number one priority for 2021,” Witty said. “We are confident the auto industry has the capabilities to do this, and we look forward to working with the new Administration, including Transportation Secretary-designate Pete Buttigieg, to support this lifesaving technology requirement as standard equipment in all new cars.”

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 nearly 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.

CONTACT: Becky Iannotta, 202.600.2032, becky.iannotta@madd.org