|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, June 28, 2001
Contact: Kathryn Henry
Long Fourth of July Holiday
Spurs National Enforcement Mobilization
To Combat Impaired Driving
With this year's long Fourth of July holiday period approaching, U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta today launched a nationwide law enforcement mobilization and education campaign to combat impaired driving.
"Impaired driving is no accident. It's an American tragedy that accounts for more than one-third of all traffic fatalities," said Secretary Mineta. "Our message is clear. If you choose to drink and drive during this Fourth of July holiday period, be forewarned: law enforcement officers across the country will catch you, arrest you, and take swift and certain action to keep drunk drivers off the roads to protect American families."
Between June 29 and July 8, state and local law enforcement agencies will be out in full force targeting impaired drivers as part of the national You Drink & Drive. You Lose. campaign by conducting saturation patrols and sobriety checkpoints. Checkpoints and patrols are law enforcement strategies in which either stationary locations are set up to check drivers for impairment or areas where police concentrate their presence to detect impaired drivers.
In 1999, 509 people were killed in traffic crashes during the three-and-a-half-day Fourth of July weekend, and nearly half of those deaths were in alcohol-related crashes. With July 4th falling mid-week, more people are expected to travel and die on the nation's highways during what could be the deadliest holiday period ever for impaired driving fatalities.
"We want to protect American families, especially during this extended July 4th holiday, by getting impaired drivers off our nation's highways," said Robert Shelton, Executive Director of the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "These deaths and injuries are senseless and that's why we can't say it enough - if you drink and drive, you lose."
The risk of serious injury or death is particularly acute for motorcycle riders who choose to ride impaired. Motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes have higher intoxication rates than any other type of motor vehicle operator. Almost half the riders killed in single vehicle crashes are intoxicated. This compares to 42 percent of drivers killed in single-passenger vehicles in which the driver was intoxicated. Motorcycle riders killed in nighttime crashes are three times as likely to be intoxicated as those who are killed during the day.
As part of a national strategy to reduce impaired driving crashes, the Department of Transportation has set a goal of no more than 11,000 alcohol-related fatalities annually in the United States by 2005. The percentage of alcohol-related deaths in 2000 remained steady at 38 percent, but the actual number of deaths increased slightly - from 15,786 in 1999 to 16,068 in 2000.
The You Drink & Drive. You Lose campaign, launched for the first time in December 1999, is a comprehensive impaired driving prevention program for states and communities to use to save lives and reach the national goal.
For more information on the You Drink & Drive. You Lose. enforcement mobilization, visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) website at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.
Return to Press Release Page