New Report Highlights Need for Improved Highway Safety Laws

2024 Roadmap to Safety Indicates expansion of ignition interlock devices would reduce drunk driving deaths

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety recently released the 2024 Roadmap to Safety, conducting a state-by-state examination of highway safety laws in the United States. Unfortunately, many states continue to fall short of taking full action to prevent a major driver of these deaths: drunk driving.

Impaired driving was tragically responsible for nearly a third of the approximately 43,000 traffic fatalities nationwide in the most recent reporting year, earning a prominent spot in the annual report as a key driver of roadway deaths.

Many states still overlook essential, lifesaving public safety measures to tackle drunk driving, including ignition interlock devices (IIDs) for everyone convicted of this offense. IIDs act as breathalyzers that prevent the car from starting if the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) registers above the legal limit, and are currently the only available technology that actively prevents a drunk driver from getting behind the wheel.

A requirement for all DUI offenders to install ignition interlock devices, like above, is a key step toward reducing drunk driving deaths and saving families from the grief associated with a lost loved one.

According to the report, 30 states and the District of Columbia maximize the use of lifesaving IIDs, with South Carolina joining the ranks of states with all-offender laws in 2023. While action by many states is welcome news, 20 states continue to ignore the proven effectiveness of IIDs – including heavily populated states such as California, Florida, and Illinois.

If these states were to adopt all-offender IID laws, America could make significant progress in reversing the upward trend of drunk driving deaths. Recent years have seen a steady rise in this metric, creating more pain and heartbreak every year:

  • 2019 fatalities: 10,142
  • 2020 fatalities: 11,654
  • 2021 fatalities: 13,384

Expanding the effectiveness of IIDs can come through additional laws as well. For example, Forbes recently reported on lower rates of repeat drunk driving in states with compliance-based removal laws, which are standards governing the removal of ignition interlock devices from the vehicles of offenders based on good behavior.

In addition to expanding IID laws, the report urges states to adopt a .05% BAC law, which would lower the threshold for driving impaired from the existing .08% blood alcohol level. Only one state, Utah, currently enforces a .05% BAC limit for drivers, a level where reduced coordination and judgment are still evident.

Every 39 minutes, a family tragically loses a loved one to others’ reckless decisions to drive impaired. To tackle this growing scourge on society, laws expanding IIDs – the only existing solution to stop a drunk driver from operating a motor vehicle – must be implemented in all 50 states.

To learn more about the importance of expanding IIDs and other solutions to reducing drunk driving, visit soberdrivingsolutions.org.