Remarks of Ellen G. Engleman
Chairman, National Transportation Safety Board
For The Century Council Hardcore Drunk Driving Press Event
National Press Club
October 2, 2003
Thank you, Susan. It is a pleasure to be here on behalf of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). I also want you to know how pleased we are at the Safety Board to be in a unique partnership with both Mothers Against Drunk Driving and The Century Council to assist state legislatures in developing effective legislation to combat the hardcore drinking driver.
Many of you know NTSB as the organization that investigates airline crashes. And, although that is one of our high priorities, the Board is responsible for many other areas of safety – marine, pipeline, railroad, and highway. And, we take each of them equally seriously. It is no less a loss, and no less a tragedy, when you lose a loved one in an aviation crash -- or a highway crash.
I am honored to be leading the 430 professionals at the Safety Board who don’t have jobs -- they have a mission – to make the transportation system safer.
Today, we are here to join forces with The Century Council to give legislators the tools they need to eliminate the tragic loss of life that results from those who repeatedly drive after drinking excessively. In 2002, 17,419 persons were killed in vehicle crashes involving alcohol. This annual loss of life is a tragedy and should not be tolerated. Half of these crashes involved the hardcore drinking driver. These offenders drive with high blood alcohol concentrations and they do so repeatedly. That is why prosecutors, courts, probation, and treatment professionals need to intervene in a significant manner after the very first DWI arrest.
The Safety Board issued a report in June 2000 that details this significant problem. Our findings and recommendations are remarkably consistent with the guidelines and best practices outlined in The Century Council’s sourcebook. The Board’s reports are based on science, data, and facts, not suppositions, wishes, or desires. That is also what this sourcebook is based on — science, data, and facts.
This resource will make all of us involved in the battle to combat hardcore drinking drivers more effective in identifying and treating the hardcore drinker and supporting law enforcement efforts with appropriate penalties aimed at dangerous offenders who chose to drive after excessive drinking. We must share information on the measures that work.
I thank The Century Council for their longstanding commitment in fighting hardcore drinking driving and I look forward to our continued good relationship on future efforts.