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THE WHITE HOUSE
TO THE AMERICAN PEOPLE
Over the past ten years, 250,000 Americans have died in accidents caused by drunk driving, and millions have been maimed or crippled. Unless greater efforts are made to combat this problem, the best estimates tell us that these figures will recur over the next decade.
We must not allow this to happen. The Presidential commission on Drunk Driving, which I appointed on April 14, 1982, has devoted eighteen months to an exhaustive study of this problem. The Commission has held a total of 100 hours of hearings in eight cities around the country. Chairman John Volpe and his colleagues have listened to the experts: the medical people, the law enforcement officials, and other authorities in this field. They have also heard the heart-breaking testimony of the victims: the bereaved and the permanently disabled. Most important of all, they have developed many new constructive proposals to help us get drunk drivers off the road.
I am proud of the great work the Commission has accomplished. I salute Chairman Volpe and the other members of the Commission for their dedication and tireless effort. I commend this Final Report, the product of their many labors, to you, the American people.
Drunk driving is a national menace, a national tragedy, and a national disgrace. It is my fervent hope that this report will receive the attention it deserves, and that it will speed the adoption of whatever measures are appropriate to remove this hazard from our national life.
on Drunk Driving
Dear Mr. President:
It is with much pleasure and a sense of accomplishment that I submit to you the Final Report of the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving. The Commission members that you appointed have worked with great enthusiasm and commitment to determine how best to reduce the death and destruction on our highways caused by drunk drivers. At eight hearings across the country, we listened with sorrow and anger to parents, friends and relatives of victims as well as to disabled victims themselves. We shared their anger as they expressed frustration with laws and courts that failed to punish those guilty of what for too long has been a socially acceptable crime. In adaition, we heard testimony from various governmental sectors--the legislature, judiciary, and law enforcement officials--as well as other expert witnesses. Like those who testified, we are convinced that more should be done. Responding to your charge, the Commission has completed its work, making recommendations that it feels will help reduce the carnage on our highways caused by those who combine drinking and driving. Long-term education and prevention efforts, with private sector involvement, are particularly key to our success in combatting drunk driving. As individuals, we will continue to voice our concern, working with citizen groups and encouraging legislatures in every State to approve legislation based on our recommendations. In addition, as recommended by the Commission, a private sector group affiliated with the National Safety Council will monitor progress on the Commission's recommendations to help make sure they are carried out. In submitting this report, I am pleased to inform you that highway fatalities in 1982 were 5,580 less than in 1981, which means about 2,800 of our citizens were not the victims of alcohol-related tragedy. This marked the largest single-year downturn in highway deaths in 40 years, with the exception of the oil embargo year of 1974. No one agency or group can take the credit for this encouraging decrease. It is truly an accomplishment of all Americans. Nonetheless, I feel the Commission did serve as a catalyst for this bipartisan safety campaign. I appreciate this opportunity to again serve our nation, as do other members of the Commission. Each of them has my deepest gratitude for his or her generous contribution of time, talent, and expertise. Without their unselfish cooperation, this formidable task could never have been accomplished.
John A. Volpe
Acknowledgements The Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving wishes to acknowledge the many persons and organizations who testified before the Commission or reviewed the Interim Report and provided comments and recommendations for inclusion in this Final Report.
We commend all those who have supported enhanced efforts at the State and local level, and particularly those individuals who have focused and continue to focus public attention on the loss and suffering of the victims of drunk driving crashes.
We also are most appreciative of the interest and commitment shown by corporate executives in educating their employees and customers on the problems created by drunk driving and the actions that can be taken to reduce the problem.
Finally, the Commission acknowledges the support of Fred L. Anderson, John M. Bacheller, Lynne M. Constantine, Nils A. Lofgren, Lee B. McLain, Steven D. Powell, Ronald W. Sabo, Donald F. Savage, and Donald B. Shea who assisted the commission staff in the preparation of the Interim Report and who also contributed to this report.