STATEMENT FROM CHRIS SWONGER, PRESIDENT AND CEO, DISTILLED SPIRITS COUNCIL OF THE UNITED STATES AND RESPONSIBILITY.ORG REGARDING 14 PERCENT INCREASE IN DRUNK DRIVING TRAFFIC FATALITIES
Washington, DC – Today, Chris Swonger, president and CEO of the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) and Responsibility.org released a statement on newly released data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:
Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) reported traffic deaths increased significantly in 2020, the highest number of deaths and the highest fatality rate on our nation’s roadways since 2007. According to the release of the annual Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data, traffic crashes, injuries, and vehicle miles traveled all declined, yet traffic crash fatalities increased by 6.8 percent and 38,824 people were killed on US roads — especially alarming are the 11,654 people killed in preventable drunk driving crashes — a 14 percent increase over 2019.
Risky drivers were a major factor in this rise in crash fatalities with 45 percent of drivers in passenger vehicles engaging in at least one of the following three behaviors: speeding, alcohol-impaired driving alone, or not wearing a seat belt alone. Four percent (or 1,638 drivers) were engaged in these three risky behaviors simultaneously. Today’s data does not include drug-impaired driving numbers.
After many years of significant declines in drunk driving, we are extremely concerned with today’s news. These deaths are 100 percent preventable. We are strongly committed to working with Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the entire DOT to implement the National Roadway Safety Strategy, which provides a layered approach that includes safer drivers, safer cars, safer roads, safer speeds, and improved medical care combined into a safe system approach. This plan is one we fully commit to advancing.
Additionally, DISCUS and Responsibility.org will continue our support for the development and deployment of advanced drunk driving prevention vehicle technology in all new vehicles, ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders, a more holistic approach to multiple substance impaired driving, and strong detection and adjudication of all forms of impaired driving. Prevention is also key to our efforts, and we will seek bold collaborative efforts to prevent DUI from happening in the first place through rideshare, increase equity in transportation and work to identify and treat people who have substance use disorders, mental health issues, or both.
We can stop impaired driving, but it will take everyone. DISCUS and Responsibility.org commit to doing our part to reach a day when no family must grieve a loved one due to this 100 percent preventable crime.
About the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States
The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States is the leading voice and advocate for distilled spirits in the U.S., advocating on legislative, regulatory and public affairs issues impacting the distilled spirits sector at the local, state, federal and international levels. DISCUS members are committed to responsibility and encourage adults who drink to do so in moderation.
Responsibility.org is a national not-for-profit that aims to eliminate drunk driving and work with others to end all impaired driving, eliminate underage drinking, and empowers adults to make a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices as part of a balanced lifestyle. Responsibility.org is funded by the following distillers: Bacardi USA, Inc.; Beam Suntory Inc.; Brown-Forman; Campari Group; DIAGEO; Edrington, Mast-Jägermeister US, Inc.; Moët Hennessy USA; Ole Smoky, LLC; Pernod Ricard USA; and William Grant & Sons. For 30 years, Responsibility.org has transformed countless lives through programs that bring individuals, families, and communities together to inspire a lifetime of responsible alcohol choices. To learn more, please visit www.Responsibility.org.