How to fight a national disaster.

This is a plea for sanity on our highways.

We have come a long way since motorists were encouraged to “take one for the road.” Today the director general of the World Health Organization states, “Alcohol-related problems have become a matter for world concern. Absenteeism, crime, and most serious of all, drunken driving, are foremost among these problems.”

World statistics show that over 125,000 people are killed each year in automobile accidents due to alcohol. Of that number, 26,000 occur in the United States alone—the highest number, relative to population, in the world. One million more are injured or permanently disabled each year—1 out of every 250 Americans. According to the National Safety Council, there is a fifty-fifty chance that any one citizen (you!) will become involved in an alcohol-related auto accident within your lifetime.

Teenagers are hurt worse. More than 8,000 are killed annually and another 40,000 are injured by traffic accidents due to alcohol. In fact, alcohol consumption is now the leading cause of death among youth between the ages of 15 and 24, and alcohol-related accidents are largely responsible.

What Are We Doing About It?

We are not doing much. And what we do is by fits and starts so that the measures we do take are not effective. Also, those who get caught reckon that action against them is just a tough break, or, worse yet, unfair discrimination.

Since the problem of drunken driving is especially acute among teenagers, many states have raised the legal age for drinking. The alcohol industry and the American Civil Liberties Union have opposed this, arguing that nothing less than our civil rights are at stake. But there is no question that such laws have significantly ...

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