National Poll Says Americans Back High-Visibility Crackdowns on DUI

September 29, 2005

As Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) celebrates its 25th anniversary, there is reportedly a lot to celebrate.

According to the MADD/Nationwide Insurance Survey Conducted by Gallup, Americans continue to show overwhelming support for high-visibility crackdowns, such as sobriety checkpoints, to rid the roadways of drunk drivers. Additionally, Americans continue to support many of the research- based solutions MADD advocates for such as tougher penalties for high-risk drunk drivers and enforcement of primary seat belt laws. Most Americans agree the issue must be tackled. Almost everyone surveyed mentioned DUI as the worst highway safety problem among a laundry list of items.

During the “MADD Celebrates Life” rally, hundreds of MADD activists, victims/survivors, and health and safety leaders from around the country joined this week in the nation’s capitol to celebrate the 44 percent reduction in alcohol-related traffic deaths and 300,000 lives saved, as well as announce the 2005 public survey about drinking of driving.

“MADD reminded the country 25 years ago that drunk driving should not be tolerated by placing the faces of loved ones on the cold, hard statistics that littered our roadways,” said Glynn Birch, national president of MADD. “Now, a quarter century later we challenge the nation to do two things: one, continue to pledge not to drive if they have been drinking to help ensure it won’t take another 25 years to substantially reduce drunk driving deaths and injuries and two, for laws to be passed and for law enforcement to use those tools that we know work: sobriety checkpoints, primary belt laws and restrictions on high-risk drunk drivers.”

Nine out of 10 Americans (94 percent) reportedly believe that driving under the influence of alcohol is a major highway safety problem. Additionally, 60 percent of those surveyed who said they drink alcoholic beverages on occasion said they have operated a vehicle under the influence of alcohol, or close to being under the influence of alcohol, at some point in their lives. The good news is of all of those surveyed who had reached out to encourage someone not to drive because they thought the person had too much to drink, three in four (77 percent) were successful.

Nationwide Insurance, a longtime supporter of MADD, stands alongside the anti-drunk driving grassroots organization by co-sponsoring the 2005 MADD/Nationwide Insurance Survey Conducted by Gallup.

Vice President of Safety for Nationwide, Timothy A. Hoyt, added, “Nationwide applauds MADD’s efforts to make roadways across America safer for everyone. Like MADD, we have demonstrated leadership through national campaigns that improve highway safety, while showing a commitment to caring about people and being a good corporate citizen. We join this cause to help ensure there are fewer drunk driving tragedies, hope for government leaders at all levels to respond to what the public says will reduce drunk driving and to what scientific research shows to be true.”

Some of the top 10 methods to reduce drunk driving mentioned by those surveyed included cracking down on high-risk drunk drivers, making it illegal to have open containers in a vehicle, using sobriety checkpoints and requiring drivers and passengers to wear a seat belt. “It is great to see continued overwhelming public support for one of the most effective ways to reduce drunk driving-sobriety checkpoints,” said Birch. Support for sobriety checkpoints jumped from 79 percent in 1993 to 83 percent in 2000 to 87 percent in 2005. Research reportedly proves that general deterrence law enforcement strategies, like checkpoints, are one of the most effective ways to stop drunk driving.

MADD has already charted its next course of action with a three-year strategic plan to reduce fatalities resulting from drunk drivers by at least 25 percent.

To accomplish this objective, MADD will: form strong alliances with every level of law enforcement including prosecutors; achieve maximum seat-belt use; support the development of technology to prevent drunk driving; improve the performance and accountability of the DUI criminal justice system; and promote alternative transportation strategies. “MADD will continue to save lives and prevent injuries because our leaders walk hand in hand with 90 percent of Americans surveyed who believe we are effective in making the public aware of the negative consequences of drunk driving,” added Birch.

In conjunction with its 25th anniversary, MADD is hosting a national conference in Washington through Oct. 1 for hundreds of MADD activists, members and supporters to learn how to further MADD’s mission, which is to stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime and to prevent underage drinking.

For more information on the survey and learn more about MADD, visit: .

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