New Data Shows Drunk Driving Deaths Spike During Holidays

U.S. Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters today announced that new federal traffic safety data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that the daily death toll from drunk driving crashes during the Christmas and New Year's holiday periods is significantly more than for the rest of the year.

"If you've had too much holiday spirit you'd better find a safe and sober ride. Driving while drunk is not worth the risk," said Peters, noting that driving with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of .08 or higher is illegal in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Peters added that the NHTSA data shows that from 2001-2005, an average of 36 fatalities occurred per day on America's roadways as a result of crashes involving an alcohol impaired driver. That number increases to 45 per day during the Christmas period and jumps to 54 per day over the New Year’s holiday. Thirty-eight percent of all traffic fatalities during the Christmas period occurred in crashes involving a drunk driver or motorcycle rider and 41 percent during the New Year’s period, she said. This compares with 31 percent for the year as a whole.

As a result, Peters and NHTSA Administrator Nicole R. Nason announced an intensive nationwide crackdown on drunk drivers by law enforcement agencies that will continue through New Year's Eve. The "Drunk Driving. Over the Limit. Under Arrest." public awareness campaign is being supported by $7 million in national television and radio advertising.

"The consequences of driving drunk are serious and real. Not only do you risk killing yourself or someone else, but the trauma and financial costs of a crash or an arrest for driving drunk can be overwhelming," Nason said.

A copy of the report, titled "Fatalities Related to Alcohol-Impaired Driving During the Christmas and New Year's Day Holiday Periods," can be viewed at www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/810870.PDF.

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