More American drivers are in prison for drinking and driving than Japanese criminals are in prison for all crimes combined
To assert that MADD saved even one life is a giant leap of faith.
The media reports the "good news" that "alcohol-related fatalities" in the US decreased by 38.5% since 1987, saving [an alleged] 7,452 lives last year". But it never mentions the bad news--that there was a 9.5% increase in the number of non-alcohol-related fatalities, or 3,029 more non-alcohol-related fatalities. How can it be considered "progress" when drivers are discouraged from drinking and driving AND when this leads to an increase in the number of traffic fatalities of non-drinking drivers by 3,029 lives per year? The media should report both sides of this equation, and conclude that the number of lives "saved" by MADD is questionable at best.
An extremely simple sanity check of this claim reveals the logical error of implementing a massive and expensive government program, and spending $20 billion per year to arrest drunk drivers, based solely on the false expectation that reducing the number of "alcohol-related fatalities" would reduce total traffic fatalities. Even IF it were assumed that the programs were responsible for saving all of the 7,920 lives saved last year (a statistical impossibility), and that seat belts, air bags, minimum age drinking laws, motorcycle helmet laws, safer cars, and safer roads did not save even one life, spending $2.5 million per life saved makes no sense, particularly when total national cancer research amounts to less than $300 for each of the 540,000 lives/year lost to cancer.
It is an indictment of the extremely poor quality of math education in the US that the public has not reacted violently to the arrest of 1.5 million drivers each year--to achieve absolutely no tangible positive results. It's even worse when the NHTSA data shows that there is an inverse relationship between reduced "alcohol-related fatalities" and the reduced traffic fatality rate. In other words, the drinking driver is statistically the safer driver, and no statistical evidence exists that MADD saved even one life.
The fatality rate per 100,000 population decreased from 18.7 per 100k population in 1987 to 15.7 in 1997, a 16% decrease in 10 years which saves 7,920 lives/year. NHTSA reports that 12,082 lives were saved from a combination of seat belt laws, minimum age drinking laws, and motorcycle helmet laws and 7,542 from reduced alcohol-related fatalities, for a total of 19,534 lives saved in 1997. The assertion that all of these new safety-related laws reduced the number of traffic fatalities by 11,614 MORE lives than the actual reduction in the fatality rate is evidence of a disconnected politically motivated agenda.
The real error of logic is the use of the term "alcohol-related", which is defined in DOT HS 808 770 (available from http://www.nhtsa.dot.gov )as "at least one driver OR non-occupant [read: pedestrian] with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.01 grams per deciliter". It takes only one fifth of an ounce of alcohol to achieve a BAC of 0.01. The report focuses on the 16,189 "alcohol-related" fatalities while ignoring the more than 1 1/5 times greater non-alcohol-related fatality rate which takes 25,778 lives/year. The report fails to note what percent of the general public has a BAC greater than 0.01 at any given time. It suggests that they know but do not want you to know that a higher percentage of the population has a BAC greater than 0.01 at any one time than the 38.5% of fatalities which are "alcohol-related".
A) 38.6% of the 41,967 traffic fatalities in 1997, or 16,189, were "alcohol-related".
B) The NHTSA defines alcohol-related as "either the driver or a nonoccupant having a bac (blood alcohol content) greater than 0.01 grams of alcohol per deciliter".
C) Stanford University found in a survey of random drivers and pedestrians that 61% had a bac greater than 0.01.
One third of a beer is enough to raise your BAC above 0.01. A beer contains 0.6 ounces of alcohol. Americans consume an average of 1.8 gallons or 230.4 ounces of alcohol per capita per year. This is enough alcohol in one year to keep the BAC of each and every American above 0.01 each and every day for more than 2 years.
NHTSA report DOT HS 808 770 states: "The 16,189 alcohol-related fatalities in 1997 (38.6 percent of total traffic fatalities for the year) represent a 32 percent reduction from the 23,641 alcohol-related fatalities reported in 1987 (51.0 percent of the total)."
There is a serious problem with that statement by itself. It implies that drinking & driving laws saved 7,452 lives last year, while ignoring the the vital fact that the number of "non-alcohol-related" fatalities INCREASED by 3,029 last year. There was a decrease in the rate of traffic fatalities which saved 7,920 lives. Adding up all the traffic safety claims, though, 19,534 lives were allegedly saved by drinking & driving laws, seat belts, air bags, minimum age drinking laws, motorcycle helmet laws, safer cars, and safer roads--which is 11,614 lives more than were actually saved!!
When there is an increase in the number of non-alcohol-related traffic fatalities of 3,029, the role this campaign played in reducing the fatality rate is much more difficult to estimate. In addition, if only 38.6% of fatalities are "alcohol-related", and if the Stanford study which shows that 61% of random drivers and pedestrians have a greater than 0.01 BAC is correct, then the non-drinking driver is 2.5 times more likely to have a fatal accident than the drinking driver.
In other words, the drinking & driving laws are effective in an adverse way--they contributed to an increase the traffic fatality rate.
At current traffic fatality rates, the average man who drives 15,000 miles per year for fifty years has a 1.91% probability of dying in a traffic crash. But a non-drinking woman driving the same distance has a 5.63% probability of dying in a traffic crash, almost three times as high. Because men are safer drivers per mile driven, if only men drove all of the miles currently driven by both men and women, his probability would decrease to 1.59%, which would save a quarter of a million lives over the next three decades. Contrary to popular belief, the NHTSA data shows that the drinking man driver has a better traffic safety record than the non-drinking man driver, with a probability over 50 years of only 0.82%. If only drinking men drove all the miles currently driven by both men and women, almost a million lives would be saved over the next 3 decades, compared to only 157,000 lives which would be expected to be saved by the use of seat belts over that time.
Conversely, if only women drove those same miles in that same timeframe, there would be almost half a million additional traffic fatalities.
The real travesty of justice is that the US now has 58,700 men and women behind bars for drinking and driving, many of whom have never had a ticket nor an accident before being attacked by these DUI laws, and who are PROVEN to be safer drivers than women drivers. Conversely, the Japanese have fewer citizens in jail and prison for *all* crimes combined, they have no DWI laws, and our MVFR is 62% higher than theirs.