The National Transportation Safety Board’s (NTSB) list of the “most wanted” drivers in the United States has been released. On this list are a number of drivers that are most likely to cause a car accident in Alabama and elsewhere.
You bet drunk drivers in Alabama are on the list. These are drivers that cause serious and fatal accidents with alarming regularity — nationwide, more than one-third of all fatal crashes involve a drunk driver.
Alabama is currently targeting drunk drivers. Governor Robert Bentley recently signed Senate Bill 361 into law. This law provides stricter penalties for those who have been convicted of a DUI in Alabama, according to WAFF 48 News. The new law requires that some convicted drunk drivers install ignition interlocks on their cars.
Our Alabama personal injury attorneys understand that these ignition interlocks may be an effective step in preventing drunk driving accidents, but the truth is, they need to be prevented before a collision or a conviction. While these devices would make it impossible for someone to start their cars without first testing their blood alcohol levels, we need something to stop those who have yet to be busted for the offense. Alabama is the last state to adopt some form of ignition interlock device.
According to the NTSB, someone is killed in a traffic accident that involves an intoxicated driver every 48 minutes. These types of accidents account for a third of all highway deaths. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that nearly 11,000 people were killed in alcohol-related traffic accidents in 2009. Nearly 350 people were killed because of an impaired driver in Alabama during that year alone.
In addition to the installation of ignition interlocks, the NTSB recommends that states conduct a number of sobriety checkpoints throughout the year. They also recommend that they enact an administrative license revocation for any driver that fails or refuses to take a sobriety test. Once convicted the NTSB suggests that states come down hard on these offenders by assessing their underlying alcohol problems, requiring appropriate treatment and holding them accountable for behavioral change. To reduce recidivism, states should use dedicated jail/treatment facilities, home detention with electronic monitoring and intensive supervision probation.
Teen drivers are also on the NTSB’s most wanted list. Teen drivers lack basic driving experience. They’re more likely to be involved in a car accident than other age group of motorists. As a matter of fact, car accidents are the number one cause of death for this age group. Nearly 10 teens die each day on our roadways. This death rate is higher than for deaths related to cancer, gun violence, or drugs among the same age group. Even though teen drivers make up 7 percent of all licensed drivers on our roadways, their accidents account for nearly 15 percent of all traffic accidents. From 2000 to 2009, more than 58,000 drivers age 15- to 20-years-old were killed in traffic crashes.
The NTSB recommends that all states use the graduated driver licensing (GDL) system to reduce the number of fatal teen car accidents. This program allows young, novice drivers to hone their skills before earning full driving privileges. Young drivers learn to drive through a learner’s permit, an intermediate license and then a full driver’s license. Through these stages, restrictions are lifted after they’ve met a number of driving requirements. A study, conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, concluded that states with the GDL program typically experience 40 percent lower rates of injury accident involvement among 16-year-olds.
Lastly, the NTSB’s most wanted list targets motorcyclists. These motorists are most likely to be severely injured or die in the event of an accident. From 1997 to 2009, the number of yearly motorcycle deaths doubled from 2,116 to 4,462. It is estimated that approximately 12 motorcyclists were killed every day. Motorcycles account for only 3 percent of the vehicles on our roadways, but they account for 13 percent of all highway deaths. A motorcyclist is most likely to die from head injury resulting from a motorcycle accident.
All of these drivers are at high risk of experiencing a fatal car accident. With stricter laws and regulations to protect motorist safety, we can one day enjoy safer roadways. Until then, road safety is in our hands. So please, drive safely and cautiously through the remainder of the summer travel season.