NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


May 14, 2003

Washington, D.C. -- As part of the commemoration of the 15th anniversary of the worst drunk driving crash in U.S. history, National Transportation Safety Board Chairman, Ellen Engleman, announced today that the Safety Board will work aggressively with local, state and federal governments, the private sector, and advocacy groups designed to reduce the number of hard-core drinkers on the nation's highways.

"We must be aggressive in our pursuit of safety," said Chairman Engleman. "The Safety Board members and staff will support the states in their efforts to get hard-core drinking drivers off the road. This is one of the top priorities for the Board," she added.

In 1988, a repeat drunk driver with a .24 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC) killed 24 youths and 3 adults and injured 30 others on their way home from a church outing. The drunk driver, in a pick-up truck, was heading down the wrong way of the highway. This tragedy, in Carrollton, Kentucky, remains the worst impaired driving crash investigated by the Safety Board. Participating in the event honoring the victims and survivors of that accident were Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND); Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ); Senator Patty Murray (D- WA); Congresswoman Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

In the Safety Board's 2000 report on "Actions to Reduce Fatalities, Injuries, and Crashes Involving the Hard Core Drinking Driver" it noted that the Nation could not achieve the Department of Transportation's stated goal of no more than 11,000 alcohol-related fatalities by 2005 if we continued doing "business as usual." The Board outlined a series of legislative, prosecutorial, and judicial measures along with vehicle sanctions and enforcement strategies that have proven successful and when combined will give the States a comprehensive program to reduce crashes involving hard core drinking drivers.

Since 1983, the Board has recommended the use of sobriety checkpoints, which are the key enforcement ingredients in its model hard core drinking driver program. However, dozen of states are without sobriety checkpoints and others use them infrequently. Additionally, some states do not have administrative license revocation.

"Recommendations are not enough -- implementation is the key," said Chairman Engleman. "We want results."

This observance of the Carrollton crash and today's call to action coincides with the release of new government statistics showing an increase in alcohol-related traffic deaths for the third year in a row.

NTSB Media Contact:
Terry N. Williams



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.