Alcohol Deaths Down

Alcohol-Related Car Deaths Down in 2004

By KEN THOMAS

The Associated Press

Monday, August 22, 2005; 6:46 PM

WASHINGTON – Drunken-driving deaths declined slightly across the
nation and fell in 32 states last year, traffic safety officials said
Monday in beginning a campaign to crack down on drunken driving during
the Labor Day holiday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported a 2
percent decrease in fatal crashes in 2004 involving at least a driver or
a motorcycle rider with an illegal blood-alcohol level of 0.08 percent or
higher.

The government said 12,874 motorists died under those circumstances in
2004, compared with 13,096 in 2003. All 50 states had a 0.08 standard
with Minnesota’s adoption of the law earlier this year.

NHTSA said a record number of 11,500 law enforcement officials would
participate in its annual campaign, called “You Drink & Drive. You
Lose.” The crackdown, which runs through Sept. 5, will be bolstered by
$13.9 million in advertising.

Texas saw a 10 percent reduction in its alcohol-related fatalities,
accounting for 141 fewer deaths than in 2003. Others making significant
reductions included Minnesota, Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska and the District of
Columbia.

Kansas, which had a 29 percent decrease in alcohol-related fatalities
in 2004, has targeted drunken driving through media campaigns, use of
sobriety checkpoints and extra law enforcement patrols during weekends
and at special events.

“We’re getting more and more local law enforcement involved in our
mobilizations,” said Pete Bodyk of the Kansas Department of
Transportation.

Utah had an 81 percent increase in alcohol-related fatalities,
representing 29 more deaths in 2004 compared with the previous year. Mark
Panos, deputy director of the Utah Highway Safety Office, attributed some
of the growth to an increase in the number of motorists on the road as
its population expands.

Several Southern states, including Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, North
Carolina and Tennessee, also posted higher fatality numbers.

Glynn Birch, president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, said his
organization was advising people to designate a sober driver before they
attend gatherings during the Labor Day holiday.

“It’s important to note that impairment begins with the first drink,
so your safest choice is to use public transportation, take a cab or find
a sober driver,” Birch said.

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