As police begin their annual holiday enforcement campaign to arrest motorists driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, Fraydun Manocherian, founder and chairman of The National Road Safety Foundation, Inc. is calling for a nationwide driver education program that he says can save up to 4,000 lives a year and eliminate more than $2.5 billion in crash-related costs.
Manocherian said about 115 people are killed in traffic crashes every day, and nearly 40 percent are alcohol-related. Statistics show that driving while impaired spikes at year-end to account for nearly half of all crashes, as people celebrate at holiday parties and family gatherings.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports nearly 400 people died nationwide in alcohol-related crashes over Christmas weekend last year, and 471 more were killed over the New Year’s weekend.
"It’s about educating drivers," Manocherian said. "If they understand that even a single drink can impair a driver’s attention, vision and reaction time to the point of contributing to a crash, most people will be more careful."
The National Road Safety Foundation, a non-profit organization, has issued a call for a nationwide program to educate new drivers and retrain experienced motorists, by putting a uniform driver education curriculum back into every high school and reinforcing safe driving practices through a paid advertising campaign. The campaign would be funded by adding a half cent per gallon of gasoline. Manocherian says the program, to be overseen by NHTSA, would cost the average driver less than 20 cents a month. The cumulative amount raised could total roughly $475 million a year, to fund programs that, based on past experience, can reduce deaths, injuries and crash-related costs by as much as 10 percent.
For more than 40 years, the National Road Safety Foundation, Inc. has produced and distributed at no charge a series of educational films, teaching manuals and public service campaigns for use by the media and professionals in driver education, traffic safety, public health and law enforcement. Nearly a million copies of the Foundation’s films and materials have been distributed to date, reaching an estimated 100 million people with messages to promote safe driving habits.