Working together, we’ve made enormous progress in reducing drunk driving in America,” said President Clinton in a radio address last fall. “Last year, the number of people killed in alcohol-related crashes hit a record low; and young people killed in alcohol-related crashes fell to the lowest rate ever recorded.”
Posters from Ohio (facing page) and Pennsylvania (this page) highlight the fight against underage drinking.
The latest data available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that alcohol-related fatalities in car crashes declined by 33% in the ten-year period between 1988 and 1998. Meanwhile, according to a 1999 survey by the Department of Health & Human Services, the percentage of teenagers, ages 12 to 17, who reported having had a drink in the previous month was 45% lower in 1998 than it was in 1982.
Much, if not all, of this positive change is the result of the efforts of the many groups and institutions that battle against the abuse of alcohol, from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to the distilleries, wineries and breweries that have spent millions of dollars on campaigns to promote responsibility when it comes to the consumption of their products.
Also at the top of the list are control state agencies. And in recent years, the efforts of control states to prevent underage drinking has been given a boost. Since 1998, the Office of Juvenile Justice & Delinquency Prevention (OJJDP), part of the U.S. Department of Justice, has given annual block grants of $360,000 to each state as part of the Enforcing the Underage Drinking Laws Grants Program. In addition to the $360,000 given to each state, the OJJDP also awards additional discretionary grants for community-level programs that combat underage drinking.
Suppliers have been playing an important part in the battle against the abuse of beverage alcohol products.
The Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (VDABC) has been so successful in obtaining and using grants that in the last six to eight months, its education office has grown from one part-time person, Maureen Earley, VDABC’s education manager, to a staff of four full-time employees. Virginia’s ABC currently receives over $1 million in funding for its education and enforcement programs, including a recent two-year grant of $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Education for the prevention of underage drinking and dangerous drinking practices on college campuses.