Honors Victims on 15th Anniversary of Nation's Worst
Unveils Federal Plan
15th anniversary of the Kentucky Bus Crash, the worst drunk driving
crash in U.S. history, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and
members of Congress recently honored victims and survivors with
a national moment of silence and announced details of MADD's federal
proposal to reduce drunk driving deaths and injuries.
call to action coincides with the release of new government
statistics showing an increase in alcohol-related traffic deaths
for the third year in a row and Congress' reauthorization of the
multi-year, multi-billion dollar Transportation Equity Act of
the 21st Century (TEA-21) for which MADD urged inclusion of a
package of highway safety provisions to re-ignite the war on drunk
MADD proposal would establish a first-time National Traffic Safety
Fund for ongoing enforcement crackdowns, such as sobriety checkpoints,
to curb drunk driving and boost seat belt use. It also calls for
stricter accountability controls to ensure that federal funds
are used more effectively and strategically at the state and national
level with increased leadership from the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration (NHTSA).
also wants the reauthorization of TEA-21 to prod states to enact
get-tough laws targeting "higher-risk" drivers as a
condition of receiving their full share of federal highway funds
and to encourage passage of state primary seat belt enforcement
laws. MADD defines a "higher-risk driver" as a repeat
drunk driving offender, a driver with a high blood-alcohol concentration
(BAC) of .15 or greater, or someone driving on a suspended
license where the suspension is the result of a prior DUI conviction.
1988 Kentucky Bus crash in which 24 youth and 3 adults were killed
and 30 others were injured on their way home from a church outing
was caused by a repeat drunk driving offender with a .24 percent
blood alcohol concentration (BAC), heading the wrong way down
the highway in a pickup truck.
year nearly 18,000 people were killed and 500,000 others were
injured in crashes involving alcohol, representing 49 deaths and
1,370 injuries every day. About one-third of drivers arrested
or convicted of DUI are repeat offenders.
drivers are slipping through cracks in the system because of public
and political complacency," said Wendy J. Hamilton, MADD
national president. "The result is a growing number of broken
bodies, broken families and broken hearts left in the wake of
drunks behind the wheel."
sister Becky and nephew Timmy were killed in a crash resulting
from a drunk driver with a .16 percent BAC - twice the illegal
limit in the majority of states and the District of Columbia.
said that "the rising tide in alcohol-related deaths is fueled
by meager resources given to enforcement, a lack of a coordinated
and strategic game plan and a lax system that often treats drunk
drivers as victims while repeat offenders and high BAC drivers
routinely get a mere slap on the wrist."
plan specifically calls for:
Establishment of a National Traffic Safety Fund to support state
and national traffic safety programs, enforcement, and data improvements
* Increased Accountability for Expenditure of Federal Funds
* Expanded Impaired Driving and Seat Belt Law Enforcement Mobilizations
* Enactment of a National Standard to Reduce Repeat DUI/DWI and
Other Higher-Risk Driver Recidivism
* Enactment of a National Primary Seat Belt Enforcement Standard
* Enactment of a National Standard Banning Open Containers of
alcoholic beverages in vehicles
crashes cost Americans $230 billion each year, but federal spending
on highway safety was only $522 million in 2001 with just 26 percent
going to fight drunk driving.
"Compared to the financial and human costs of drunk driving,
our nation is spending a mere pittance on the problem. The reauthorization
of TEA-21 will set the direction of transportation policy for
the rest of the decade, and this is our best opportunity to ensure
fairness and balance in highway safety spending," said Hamilton.
call to action was echoed by the National Transportation Safety
Board Chairman Ellen Engleman, U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg
(D-NJ), Michael DeWine (R-OH), Byron Dorgan (D-ND), Senator Patty
Murray (D-WA) and Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) who joined
Hamilton at a recent Capitol Hill news conference.
also joined MADD in calling for stricter standards for higher-risk
"The tragedy that occurred 15 years ago in Carrollton, Kentucky,
remains the worst impaired driving crash ever investigated by
the Safety Board," said Ellen Engleman, NTSB chairman. "Since
that crash, we have made school buses safer, now we need to make
our highways safer by getting drivers, like the Carrollton, KY
driver, who drive with a high blood alcohol concentration, or
who repeatedly abuse alcohol and then drive, off the road."
MADD Past National President Karolyn V. Nunnallee, whose daughter
Patty was the youngest killed in the bus crash, "If it happened
to my family, it can happen to any family...and these tragedies
do occur every thirty minutes across the country. Any politician
can say that safety is their number one priority. But deeds, not
words, will show us who the real leaders are."
is the premiere organization working to fight drunk driving, support
the victims of this violent crime and prevent underage drinking.
MADD is a 501(c) 3 charity with 600 chapters and 2 million members
nationwide. Nearly 270,000 lives have been saved since MADD's
founding in 1980. Find a full version of MADD's plan at ttp://www.madd.org/docs/MADD_TEA21paper.pdf