Impaired Driving
In 2003, 45 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico had by law created a threshold making it illegal to drive with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of 0.08 or higher. Recent statistics released by NHTSA for 2003 show that 17,013 people died in alcohol-related crashes. Eighty-six percent of the 17,013 were killed in crashes where at least one driver or non-occupant had a BAC level of .08 or higher and half of the drivers involved in fatal crashes had a BAC of 0.16 or above. Alcohol was involved in 40 percent of fatal crashes and 7 percent of all crashes in 2003. Drivers 21 to 34 years of age represent the highest percentage of drivers in fatal crashes who had BAC levels of .08 or higher.

While the agency has made progress in reducing the number of fatalities from 2003 (down 551, almost 3 percent from 2002 alcohol-related fatalities), the reality is that most impaired drivers arrive home safely and are never punished for their life-threatening crimes. This, unfortunately, only reinforces their future decisions and behavior. To continue this downward trend in alcohol-related fatalities, a goal of raising awareness and keeping messages in the public view that impaired driving is a deadly crime with severe personal consequences is critical.

Safety Belts
Everyday in the United States, people are killed and seriously injured because they fail to take the simple life saving precaution of wearing their safety belt. In 2003, 42,643 people died on our nation's highways and 2.89 million more were seriously injured as a result of traffic crashes. Studies demonstrate again and again that the greatest deterrent to traffic fatalities and injuries is for motorists to buckle up their children and themselves.

To increase safety belt use, NHTSA conducts a national high visibility enforcement and paid media mobilization shortly before and during the Memorial Day weekend (2 weeks). Because of NHTSA’s efforts and efforts of its many partners, safety belt usage now stands at 80 percent nationwide.

While efforts have been successful, much more must be done. To realize the full life-saving potential of safety belts usage rates nationwide must increase to 85 to 90 percent. A goal of raising awareness and keeping safety belt messages in the public view is critical in creating an environment where unsafe driving behavior is unacceptable.