Our Take: Drunk Driving Makes Father’s Day 4th Deadliest Holiday on U.S. Roads

By Sabra Rosener 

Who doesn’t love the holidays? A time when Iowa families can celebrate, reflect, and create memories with family and friends.  

This Sunday, June 19, is Father’s Day. A day for families to spend time laughing and enjoying family, not a day to mourn the preventable deaths of our loved ones. Father’s Day is the fourth-deadliest holiday on our country’s roads because of accidents caused by preventable drunk driving accidents. 

Like most holidays, Father’s Day sees an increase in traffic and a higher number of drunk drivers, with  

AutoInsurance.org’s analysis of data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determining that on average 431 crashes occur. Traffic deaths on Father’s Day are 22% higher than on New Year’s Eve and only 4% less than on the deadliest holiday, Memorial Day.  

Sadly, fatal crashes on U.S. holidays and, in general, are increasing. 

According to the latest stats from NHTSA, U.S. roadways saw a 16-year high of 42,915 deaths in 2021, a tragic 10% increase over the previous year. In 2020, the country also saw 11,654 alcohol-impaired driving traffic deaths, a significant increase of 14% from 2019.   

Following a similar trend, traffic fatalities in the Hawkeye State totaled a five-year high of 354 in 2021, according to Iowa DOT. Out of that total, 25% were driver and passenger fatalities in alcohol-related crashes. 

A third of all driver fatalities occur with a blood alcohol content of .08 (the legal limit) or higher. In 2021, fatalities involving alcohol and impaired driving, as well as unsafe driving, increased by 5% to more than 12,200 deaths.  

These statistics are alarming because impaired driving fatalities are preventable. Despite the decades-long efforts of businesses, non-profits, and governmental organizations to combat drunk driving, it just isn’t getting better. 

Repeatedly, people continue to think “it can’t happen to me” because drinking impairs more than motor functions, it impairs judgment and good decision making.  

For all four-day holiday periods, driving fatalities are three times greater than during a non-holiday. NHTSA determined about 100 people die every day in car accidents, and 28 people die in drunk driving crashes; that is one person every 52 minutes – 365 days, every single year.  

Alcohol-related deaths and injuries are tragic because they can be prevented through the implementation of advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology, which can prevent more than 9,400 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities a year.  

Ignition interlock devices (IIDs) are a leading technology, and, in 2020 alone, prevented 390,456 drunk drivers from starting their cars and driving into traffic and perhaps tragedy. In Iowa, Intoxalock IIDs prevented 1,606 drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel. 

IID technology works because the technology is mandated by courts to be installed on vehicles of past offenders. This strategy keeps people from considerable risk while driving intoxicated from operating their vehicle, keeping our roads safer for everyone. IIDs are 74% more effective in reducing repeat drunk driving offenses than a full license suspension for first-time offenders. 

The installation of an IID in a vehicle also offers benefits to past offenders by allowing them to continue with their daily lives, such as safely and responsibly driving to work and taking their kids to school. 

Reducing drunk driving this Father’s Day and every day needs to be a goal of all Americans as we strive to reduce road fatalities. In the future, new tools such as passive alcohol detection technology will help in the fight against drunk driving. But for now, the expanded use of existing tools like ignition interlock devices is vital to winning the fight against drunk driving. 

Sabra Rosener, J.D., is the Senior Vice President, Legislative Affairs at Intoxalock. Intoxalock services more than 100,000 customers annually and is an industry-leading provider of ignition interlock devices.