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Ads Seek To Curb Drunk Driving Deaths

Federal traffic officials hope new ads promising arrest for drunken drivers will lower death statistics that have barely budged in a decade.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said in a report Wednesday that 39 percent of all traffic deaths in the United States last year involved alcohol. A total of 16,885 people died in alcohol-related crashes in 2005, including pedestrians and cyclists, down just 0.2 percent from 16,919 in 2004.

Fatal crashes involving at least one driver or motorcyclist with an illegal blood-alcohol level of 0.08 dropped more than 1 percent. But traffic deaths in crashes involving a blood-alcohol level of 0.15 — nearly twice the legal limit — were up nearly 1 percent.

Check the NHTSA statistics
Safety officials said little progress has been made during the past decade. In hopes of changing that, they are launching an $11 million advertising campaign targeting male drivers ages 21-34, along with stepped-up enforcement through the Labor Day holiday in early September, including sobriety checkpoints and additional patrols.

"Drunk driving is one of America's deadliest crimes. Our message is simple: if you drive drunk, you will be arrested," said Maria Cino, acting Secretary of Transportation.

The new advertising largely targets males, who had the highest percentage of drivers in fatal drunken driving crashes. One-third of the men in those fatal crashes were ages 21 to 34.

The ads include a new slogan, "Drunk Driving: Over the Limit. Under Arrest." They replace previous spots that said, "You Drink. You Drive. You Lose."

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