WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2012 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Today, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) expressed support for provisions in legislation introduced by House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla). The American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act will significantly strengthen highway safety in America and advance MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®.
Specifically, the bill includes an ignition interlock incentive grant provision which will encourage states to adopt all offender ignition interlock laws, a key component of the Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving. In addition, the measure includes important provisions which will help streamline highway safety, providing states more flexibility while holding them accountable for highway safety improvements. It also continues critical paid-ad funding for the annual law enforcement crackdowns on drunk driving and seatbelt use.
MADD also called on Congress to further enhance the measure's safety provisions by including funding for the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) advanced technology research program. In 2010, 10,228 people in the United States were killed in crashes involving a drunk driver, but the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) estimates that DADSS could save almost 8,000 lives per year. Another study by the IIHS shows that the public is ready for in-vehicle technology to combat drunk driving. The IIHS research also shows that two-thirds of those surveyed considered the use of advanced technology to keep drunk drivers off the roads to be a "good" or "very good" idea.
"While drunk driving remains the primary threat to American families traveling on our roadways, we are closer than ever to making sure no family must endure the pain of losing a loved one to this 100-percent preventable crime," said MADD National President Jan Withers. "Chairman Mica and Ranking Member Rahall are to be commended for the interlock section of this legislation which validates MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving through its strong support of ignition interlocks."
An ignition interlock is a breath test device linked to a vehicle's ignition system. When a convicted drunk driver wishes to start his or her vehicle, he or she must first blow into the device. The vehicle will not start unless the driver's Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) is below a preset level. After passing laws requiring ignition interlock devices for all offenders in Oregon and Arizona, those states saw drunk driving deaths decrease by 52 and 51 percent, respectively.
In addition to saving lives, ignition interlocks also save taxpayers money. The DWI/DUI offender pays for the installation and monitoring of the interlock. A study of New Mexico's interlock law found the cost of an interlock was $2.25 a day for the user, but for every dollar invested in an interlock for a first-time offender, the public saves three dollars. This should be no surprise given the price tag attached to drunk driving. In November of last year, MADD released a Report to the Nation showing that drunk driving costs this country $132 billion.
One item not included in the legislation is the ROADS SAFE Act sponsored by committee members Reps. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Heath Shuler (D-NC). This legislation would provide critical research money for advanced alcohol detection technology, known as the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety, or DADSS. This is a cooperative research project between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and leading automakers through the Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety to encourage and support the development of new technology that would stop drivers from operating a vehicle if drunk. If passed, the ROADS SAFE Act would provide the funding necessary to bring this technology to the marketplace.
"MADD looks forward to working with Chairman Mica, Rep. Capito and Rep. Shuler to make sure ROADS SAFE is included in the final version of the highway safety reauthorization bill," said Withers. "Drunk drivers turn cars into weapons. DADSS turns cars into the cure."
About Mothers Against Drunk Driving
Founded by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation's largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking. With the help of those who want a safer future, MADD's Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® will end this danger on America's roads. PowerTalk 21® is the national day for parents to talk with their kids about alcohol, using the proven strategies of Power of Parents™ to reduce the risk of underage drinking. And as one of the largest victim services organizations in the U.S., MADD also supports drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge, serving one person every nine minutes through local MADD victim advocates and at 1-877-MADD-HELP. Learn more at www.madd.org or by calling 1-877-ASK-MADD.
SOURCE Mothers Against Drunk Driving