Monday, September 20, 2010

Nationwide Drop in Alcohol-Related Driving Fatalities Demonstrates Progress in the Fight Against Drunk Driving

/PRNewswire/ -- Diageo, the world's leading spirits, wine and beer company and an industry leader in promoting responsible drinking, applauds the efforts that contributed to a 7.4% decline in alcohol-related driving fatalities in 2009. This data, reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), found that 33 states and Puerto Rico experienced a decline in the number of alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2009 compared to 2008. Nevertheless, Diageo believes more must be done to reduce alcohol-related fatalities.

"This data shows that significant progress is being made in the fight against drunk driving, and that strong anti-drunk driving enforcement campaigns are having a positive effect. But the reality is that the fight is far from over," said Guy L. Smith, Executive Vice President of Diageo, North America. "Diageo has a zero tolerance policy toward drunk driving, and we call upon elected officials across the country to pass meaningful legislation that enforces more severe penalties for hardcore and repeat drunk drivers."

Research shows that there is one group of drunk driving offenders that should be the focus of efforts to combat alcohol-related fatalities: hardcore drunk drivers, repeat offenders and those who drive with a high blood alcohol concentration of .15 or above. Hardcore drunk drivers are responsible for approximately 63 percent of alcohol-related traffic fatalities, according to the NHTSA.

Smith continued, "States must enact proven and effective comprehensive legislation that targets these offenders, and we are ready, willing and able to work with state legislatures to pass appropriate laws." He noted that Diageo has a strong record of supporting measures that combat hardcore drunk driving and is working to encourage that laws are passed in many states that do not have comprehensive drunk driving programs in place.

Diageo is a founding member and major supporter of The Century Council, an organization funded by some of the country's leading distillers committed to developing programs to combat drunk driving and underage drinking. These programs include 'Combating Drunk Driving Judicial Education' and 'Girl Talk.' The Century Council also works with a broad array of education and prevention professionals on alcohol issues. In addition, Diageo is an active supporter of the Federal Trade Commission's anti-underage drinking campaign, 'We Don't Serve Teens'.

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