Today, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released its annual report on traffic fatalities for 2015. The bad news is that overall fatalities went up 7.2 percent.  Alcohol deaths also went up, but the good news is that for the first time ever drunk driving deaths are below 30 percent of all crashes at 29 percent. Drunk Driving fatalities increased by 3.2 percent, from 9,943 in 2014 to 10,265 in 2015.

As a nation, we must do more to prevent these 100% preventable tragedies. The states that have good interlock laws continue to perform better than the others.  We are making progress with our keen focus on our Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving and advocating for all offender ignition interlock laws. Since the Campaign was launched 10 years ago, the number of people killed in drunk driving crashes has dropped by 24 percent.

According to the new data, drunk driving deaths in West Virginia have been reduced by 50 percent since enacting an ignition interlock law for all offenders in 2008. The reduction just from 2014 to 2015 alone was 15 percent. New Mexico passed its all-offender ignition interlock law in 2005, and drunk driving deaths are down 37 percent, with a 16.2 percent drop from 2014 to 2015. Kansas also has seen a 37 percent reduction in drunk driving deaths since enacting an all-offender law in 2011, with a 22 percent drop from 2014 to 2015.

Other states with all-offender ignition interlock laws:

•    Alabama (Effective July 2014): 5% reduction
•    Arizona (Effective September 2007): 31% reduction
•    Arkansas (Effective April 2009): 12% reduction
•    Colorado (Effective January 2009): 14% reduction
•    Hawaii (Effective January 2011): 23% reduction
•    Illinois: (Effective January 2009): 13% reduction
•    Louisiana (Effective July 2007): 33% reduction
•    Mississippi (Effective October 2014): 16% reduction
•    Missouri: (Effective March 2014): 9% reduction
•    Tennessee: (Effective September 2013): 11% reduction
•    Texas (Effective September 2015): 8% reduction
•    Utah (Effective July 2009): 12% reduction
•    Virginia (Effective July 2012): 8% reduction
•    Washington (Effective January 2009): 19% reduction

MADD also applauds the 28 states and the District of Columbia that have passed all-offender ignition interlock laws. But we want to see every state pass laws that will save lives. This year, MADD calls on the 22 states that don’t have an all-offender ignition interlock law to take action to protect their residents and visitors. We challenge every state with an all-offender law to evaluate and improve existing laws to ensure all offenders use an ignition interlock as soon as possible after a drunk driving offense.

Keep in mind, however, that these numbers address only the issues of DRUNK driving crashes.  Tennessee’s IMPAIRED driving (which includes both drunk AND drugged driving) crash data for 2015 that was released earlier this year indicated that 39% of all traffic fatalities in the state were due to substance impaired driving.  This is why MADD’s mission is not just to eliminate drunk driving, but to also fight drugged driving as well.  Too many lives are stil being lost unnecessarily to these 100% preventable crimes.

But we can make a difference – through education, awareness, and by improving laws in our state.  Get involved with MADD Tennessee today!  Sign up for our monthly newsletter so you can lend a voice when legislation is on the table.  “Like” our MADD Tennessee Facebook page, invite friends to like it, and react to & share posts to help us get the word out about topics important to our mission.

Together, we will create a Nation of No More Victims!