Federal officials announced a renewed attempt Thursday to crack down on drunk drivers throughout the holiday season. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx discussed the scourge of drunk driving at a Washington D.C. movie theater as moviegoers readied for the opening-day unveiling of Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Fans of the movie series will be among the first to see new public-service announcements that remind motorists of the government's long-running "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" campaign. The ads – seen below – feature two motorists looking in a mirror and trying to convince themselves they're OK to drive after a night of drinking. They'll air before Star Wars and other movies at theaters across the country over the next few weeks.
"Drunk driving doesn't just happen," said Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "It's a decision people make. A decision to break the law can bring with it fatal consequences. We're proud to be working with thousands of law enforcement agencies across the country to protect the public and get drunk drivers off our roads."
Efforts to rid the roads of drunks have been going for decades, but fatalities from drunk-driver involved traffic crashes remain stubbornly high, accounting for about a third of roadway deaths in recent years. Alcohol-impaired crashes killed 9,967 people in 2014, the latest year for which data is available, according to numbers from the government's Fatality Analysis Reporting System. That's an average of one fatality every 53 minutes.
That's a 1.1 percent decline in drunk-driving deaths from 2013, but transportation officials and safety advocates are nonetheless frustrated by the slow pace of stopping drunk drivers.