The drunk driving epidemic continues in this country. A few decades ago, nearly half of all traffic deaths were caused by alcohol. Since then, we’ve lowered that number to about 30%, but that’s it. It’s been 30% for years and that number is simply not good enough.
In 2015, there were 10,265 alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the United States. That’s nearly one-third of all traffic deaths.
“When you look at the fatalities, it’s almost unreliable that, as a country, we’re willing to let it continue to happen,” said Deborah A.P. Herman, president and chief executive of the National Safety Council (NSC).
According to The Huffington Post, more people are dying out on the roads than ever before. The uptick in the amount of drivers on the road, cheap gasoline, and a propitious economy all contribute to the densely populated roadways, but drunk driving is still causing far too many deaths.
One way to significantly lower the drunk driving fatalities in the U.S. is to have stricter government policies on the issue. Universal laws that would require all drunk driving offenders to have ignition interlock devices installed on their vehicle would surely lower the number of traffic deaths.
These devices would require a driver to blow into it and if there is any indication that the driver has been drinking, the vehicle will not be able to start.
“There’s a mountain of data now that show interlock laws work,” said J.T. Griffin, chief government affairs officer at Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).
Although all 50 states have some sort of interlock device law, only 23 require all offenders to use them. West Virginia implemented a stricter policy in 2008, and since then, the drunk driving deaths in WV have plummeted by 50%.
“These laws are really critical for states to pass,” Griffin added.
Interlock laws would be a great step forward, but both MADD and the NSC agree that law enforcement needs to step up its campaigns to successfully identity, pull over, and arrest drunk drivers.
Every day, people drive drunk nearly 300,000 times, but only 4,000 or less are arrested and the average drunk driver drives drunk approximately 80 times before they get arrested.
“You can drive from D.C. to California and halfway back, drunk, before you get caught,” Hersman added.