Drunk Driving Deaths

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  JANUARY 18 ,
| 3 Sources

In 2016, there were 18,005 drunk driving deaths in the U.S. There are eight drunk driving fatalities involving teens every day. Driving while intoxicated is extremely dangerous. It can be lethal. Something must be done to stem the tide of drunk driving deaths.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is an organization that works to prevent drunk driving. MADD was founded in 1980 by Candy Lightner after her daughter Cari was killed by a repeat offender drunk driver. Since then, drunk driving fatalities have decreased by 44%. Still, there is a long way to go.

MADD’s campaign to end drunk driving deaths has four components:

  • High visibility law enforcement.
  • Ignition interlock devices for all convicted drunk drivers.
  • Advanced vehicle technology that will make it impossible for an intoxicated person to start a car.
  • Public support.

Here’s how it all works together to prevent drunk driving fatalities.

High Visibility Law Enforcement

High visibility law enforcement includes a number of things, such as:

  • Sobriety checkpoints where drivers are evaluated for signs of alcohol impairment.
  • Saturation patrols, which involves more law enforcement on the roads, patrolling for traffic offenders.
  • Letting the public know that law enforcement is cracking down on drunk driving.

MADD especially supports high visibility law enforcement during high risk times such as holidays like Labor Day and New Year’s, when drunk driving deaths are most likely to occur.


Ignition Interlock Devices

These are devices that make it impossible for intoxicated individuals to start a car. They are connected to the starting circuit of a car and require the driver to blow into the device in order to start the car. If there is measurable alcohol in the driver’s system, the car will not start.

While MADD also supports advanced vehicle technology for all cars that would serve this purpose, these devices are available now, and MADD advocates they be required for all convicted drunk drivers (this is currently the case in only a handful of states).

Advanced Vehicle Technology

The Blue Ribbon Panel on Advanced Alcohol Detection Technology has identified four possible advances in technology that would prevent intoxicated individuals from operating motor vehicles. They are:

  • Advanced breath testing, which would test the individual but would also test for alcohol in the car.
  • Using light to measure blood alcohol content, a technique called spectroscopy.
  • Using a touch system to measure blood alcohol content through the skin.
  • Using eye movement measurement to measure involuntary eye movements related to blood alcohol content as well as eye closure related to drowsiness.

MADD believes these technologies will be available within the next ten years, and will advocate for their use in all automobiles.

Public Support

MADD works to unite a wide variety of organizations and individuals, including victims of drunk drivers and their families, policy makers, community leaders, safety advocates, law enforcement officers, health care professionals, alcoholic beverage manufacturers, auto manufacturers, insurers, technology developers, and other concerned individuals. They work to mobilize people on a grassroots level.

The work that MADD does goes a long way to prevent drunk driving fatalities. If their campaign is successful, even more drunk driving deaths will be prevented.

You can work with MADD or similar organizations to help prevent drunk driving fatalities. For instance, there is SADD, or Students Against Drunk Driving, an organization for high school students. There is probably a council on alcoholism or similar agency in your town. You can look under “alcoholism” in your local yellow pages, or see our resources page for more ways to get involved.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

More than drunk driving deaths on our consequences of drunk driving page

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