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Earlier this month, as part of its conclusions to an investigation into wrong-way driving crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) recommend ignition interlocks for all those convicted of a DUI. That means every first-time offender couldn't start his car until he had satisfied the breathalyzer attached to his ignition. With the nation's deadliest hours for drunk driving approaching, New Year's Day, the American Automobile Association (AAA) has pointed out the dangers of the holiday and voiced support for the NTSB measure.

The AAA says its own study shows that "nearly eight out of ten Americans support requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted DUI offenders, even if it's their first conviction." Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has put the national rate of repeat DUI offenders at 15 percent, but there's a huge variance: in California nearly eight percent of fatal DUI crashes are repeat offenders and DUI recidivism overall was 24 percent in 2007, whereas in New Mexico in 2011 more than 50 percent of fatal DUI crashes are attributed to repeat offenders. Another stat from MADD is that "The average driver drives drunk 87 times before their first arrest."

There are already 17 states that mandate ignition interlock devices for those convicted of DUI, and the NTSB is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to speed up research into manufacturer-installed interlock devices. It will probably be a while, if ever, before the federal government or the rest of the country follows the lead of those 17 states, but the real point is this: We've made it past the Mayan Apocalypse, so enjoy the new world and be careful behind the wheel come NYE.
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CAUTION AHEAD: NEW YEAR'S RANKS AS DEADLIEST DAY ON U.S. ROADS
AAA warns of impaired driving dangers and announces support of ignition interlocks


WASHINGTON, Dec. 26, 2012 - As Americans prepare for holiday celebrations, AAA reminds drivers and passengers alike of the dangers on the roads this New Year's Day, which consistently ranks as the year's deadliest day for alcohol-related fatalities.To strengthen efforts to protect the public against drunk drivers and reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths, AAA is announcing its support of ignition interlocks for all convicted DUI offenders, and offers important safety advice to partygoers.

"AAA is not alone in its concern about impaired driving or strong support for tough policies for convicted drunk drivers," said AAA President and CEO Robert Darblenet. According to the 2012 Traffic Safety Culture Index conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, more than nine in 10 drivers consider it a serious threat to their personal safety when others drink and drive, and nearly all (97 percent) surveyed find it unacceptable for a driver to get behind the wheel when they have had too much to drink. To prevent these dangers, nearly eight in 10 Americans support requiring ignition interlocks for all convicted DUI offenders, even if it's their first conviction.

Research has identified ignition interlock devices (IIDs) as a proven way to save lives. AAA's recommendation to requirethe use of IIDs for all convicted offenders is grounded in research. "Evidence clearly shows that IIDs are more effective than other methods at reducing re-arrest among convicted drunk drivers and keeping them off the road," said Darblenet.

AAA is reaching out to motorists on the heels of a recent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) decision to support laws requiring IID use for all first-time DUI offenders-one of several new recommendations issued to help curb alcohol-related traffic injury and death. "I commend AAA for stepping up for safety," said NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman. "Technologies, such as ignition interlocks, will reduce alcohol-related crashes on our nation's roadways. We look forward to working alongside AAA and its clubs to eliminate the nation's top killer on our roadways – impaired driving."

Preventing drinking and driving is a shared responsibility to save lives. While AAA advocates expanding IID use to all persons convicted of drunk driving, New Year's Eve partygoers can do their part by heeding the following advice:

- Always plan ahead to designate a non-drinking driver before any party or celebration begins
- Never get behind the wheel of a car when you've been drinking alcohol – even after just one drink
- Never ride as a passenger in a car driven by someone who has been drinking alcohol – even after just one drink
- Do not hesitate to take the keys from friends or family members who may be impaired
- Call a taxi for a friend in need
- Be a responsible host in reminding guests to stay safe and always offer alcohol-free beverages
- If you encounter an impaired driver on the road, keep a safe distance and ask a passenger to call 911 (or pull over to a safe location to make the call yourself)
- Remember: prescription, over-the-counter medications and illegal drugs also can impair your ability to drive safely

Visit PreventDUI.AAA.com for impaired driving facts, transportation alternatives and expert advice. AAA encourages visitors to Take the Pledge to drive drug and alcohol-free.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 53 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.