- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 19, 2004

Memorial Day kicks off the start of what the National Commission Against Drunk Driving calls the “100 deadly days of summer.”

The summer months bring a rise in alcohol-related car crashes, the commission says, and Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day were the deadliest holiday periods in 2002 because of drunken driving.

After a significant drop from 1980 to 1994, the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths began to rise in 2000. The commission said a person is injured every minute and another is killed every 30 minutes in an alcohol-related car crash.

“At the rate we’re going, one in every three of us will be involved in an alcohol-related crash in our lifetime,” said John Moulden, commission president.

To curb this trend, the commission, along with the National Association of Broadcasters, introduced the Congressional Stop DUI Caucus and the broadcast industry’s “Stop Drunk Driving Now” public-awareness campaign. Both were kicked off yesterday at a press conference on Capitol Hill.

Reps. Shelley Berkley, Nevada Democrat, and Jon Porter, Nevada Republican, will co-chair the Congressional Stop DUI Caucus with Rep. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican.

In Nevada, 171 persons died in 2002 as a result of drunken driving. Mr. Porter’s daughter was injured by a drunken driver four years ago.

“We will work with every interested organization across this country to raise awareness about the prevalence of drunk driving and to spark renewed action at all levels of government to combat this major public safety threat,” Mr. Porter said.

Mrs. Berkley said the caucus will “enable members of Congress to take an active role in educating Americans about the dangers of drinking and driving.” It also will “help identify and promote effective legislative tools to combat [the] deadly practice.”

The “Stop Drunk Driving Now” campaign provides broadcasters with ideas on how to educate their audiences about the dangers of drunken driving.

“Local radio and television stations have a long history of providing life-saving messages, both on air and off, about the power of prevention,” said Edward Fritts, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Broadcasters.

Sandy Heverly, executive director of the STOP DUI grass-roots citizens’ coalition, expressed the urgency of her cause.

“Carnage is predictable when you drive under the influence,” Mrs. Heverly said. She and her family were hit by a drunken driver in 1983, and she has fought to end such accidents ever since.

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