Governor Deval L. Patrick
Governor Speaks Out Against Drunk Driving
December 13, 2007
As Delivered

Barbara Harrington, State Executive Director at MADD Massachusetts

At this time of the year, it is especially important for people to remember that they should designate a sober driver before drinking begins. Drunk driving is the most frequently committed violent crime in this country and 3/10 Americans will be affected by it in some time in their lives. So whether you're a host or a guest at a party, make sure that when you're making your plans, you make a plan for safe driving.

The ribbon is tied to the vehicle in any place that's convenient to remind people that you are going to be a safe driver and to remind yourself that you're going to make that plan before drinking begins. So what we'd like you to know that in Massachusetts, we used to be ranked in the bottom of the states in terms of our approach to drunk driving and we're now at the national average. In the last two years for which we have numbers, we have dropped the death rate due to drunk driving crashes for a total of 19%, that's 46 lives saved. And the lives saved are a small proportion of the other damage that's done by drunk drivers including serious injuries, severe brain injuries, and all kinds of trauma and property loss to people.

So this time of year, when getting together with friends and family, it's really important to think about those 46 people and how we want to make sure the people close to us, and the people that we work with, and our friends are protected from drunk drivers, through our own behavior and through public behavior.

We also have made three significant improvements to the drunk driving law. We've had sobriety check points at a record level here, we've had 85 this year, we've had 2500, repeat drunk driving offenders on ignition interlock devices. There's a lot more that we could do and that's why MADD has created the campaign to eliminate drunk driving. And it's based not only on high visibility enforcement, like checkpoints. It's built on the full use of interlock technologies, eventually covering first offenders as well as repeat offenders. And its also built on the development and use of emerging technologies to passively detect alcohol in the systems of drivers who have never been arrested for the crime.

All of us will eventually be driving a car that will tell if we've had too much alcohol on board and will intervene to stop us from driving. And finally, we are hoping to kick up a real grass-roots campaign to support the campaign to eliminate drunk driving. And that's another reason why we're here today. So we're very grateful to the governor for helping us out, and I'd like to introduce Governor Patrick.

Governor Patrick

Thank you very much, Barbara. Barbara, thank you for being here today, and for what you and MADD do every day to keep our roads safe and our young people and all drivers safe. Let's make it a safe holiday season. Let's be smart. Lots of people will be going to seasonal celebrations of one kind or another. Make smart decisions. Choose not to drink. Or if you do, use public transportation, or have a designated driver who will remain sober to get us safely on the roads, keep us safe on the roads.

I want to thank Barbara and MADD for all they do this season and around the year to emphasize the importance of safety. I want to thank the registrar for her wonderful efforts that have been recognized and should be recognized, to partner with MADD and with others to keep the roads safe and certainly all of the good men and women of the Massachusetts State Police represented today by Captain Wicks for their great efforts. Let's have a great and safe holiday season. Glad to be with everyone. Happy Holidays.