Remarks on Signing the
National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Week Proclamation
December 15, 1986
you very much, and Secretary Dole, Diane Steed, ladies and gentlemen, it's
always a pleasure to share the podium with people like David Stern and Jerry
Sachs, Rich Benson, Jim Adduci, Bobby Brown, and
our administration came to Washington, we've made a special
cause of making the future better for young lives. We've worked for lower taxes
and fewer regulations, so that young people could have futures of hope and
opportunity in a growing economy. We've worked to make quality the top priority
in education, so young people would have the tools to take advantage of those
opportunities. We've worked for an America that was so strong that
no one would dare challenge us, so that our young people today and in the
future can live in a world at peace. And with Nancy taking the lead, we've
fought drug and alcohol abuse, so that they can enjoy that world of peace and
opportunity to the fullest. That's why I'm so pleased to be with you today and
to sign this proclamation. I can't think of any group of Americans that has
done more to save young lives than those mothers and others who have made the
battle against drunk and drugged driving a national crusade.
and drugged driving is our nation's number one killer of young people. Last
year more than 4 in every 10 teenage deaths in America were caused by car
crashes, and in more than half of those, someone had been drinking. Yes,
alcohol-related driving killed more than 3,000 of our young people last year --
3,000 who could have taken advantage of all the opportunities that America has
to offer, 3,000 who could have in turn helped build America, and 3,000 who
would have been part of the adventure of America's future.
course, drunk and drugged driving has taken its toll among people of all ages.
Each year alcohol-related crashes injure more than a half a million Americans, or one American every minute, every day, day in
and day out, throughout the year. And what this means is that two out of every
five Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some point in
that's why 2 years ago I signed a law that put the Federal Government on the
side of a 21-year-old minimum drinking age nationwide. We knew all too well
that when it came to saving young lives -- and all lives -- the higher drinking
age was not a fad or experiment but a proven success. Almost every State that
had raised the drinking age to 21 had seen a
significant drop in teenage driving fatalities -- drops as high as 25 to 30 percent.
When I signed that bill, fewer than half of our States had a 21-year-old
minimum drinking age, and I'm happy to tell you that today all but seven do.
And I'm happy to tell you, also, that the new minimum drinking age is working.
Last year the number of drunk drivers killed in crashes was down 26 percent
from 1980. This was more than twice the drop in all driving deaths in the same
time. Put another way, the Department of Transportation estimates that because
of the drop in drunk driving deaths 5,000 more
Americans lived through this past year.
my friends, there's so much more to do, and it's not government that can do it.
It's we ourselves, we Americans, in our homes, with our friends, in our
communities. The designated driver program is one thing we can do. When a group
goes to a party, a ball game, a restaurant, or a bar, one doesn't drink. He or
she drives the others home safely. I hope that restaurants, bars, and arenas
all over America will sponsor designated
driver programs. And designated driver program or not, if you see a friend
who's had too much and is heading for the car, be a real friend -- stop him or
her and drive them home yourself. We can all save lives if we remember that
friends don't let friends drive drunk. And if he asks why you're doing it, just
say it's because you care.
are other ways to show we care. I'm announcing today our new The Road To Winning program. The Road To
Winning will be a public-private partnership between State governments and
communities. It'll bring professional and college athletes into schools to talk
about drugs, alcohol, and safe driving. It'll help America's winning athletes show
America's young people The Road
To Winning -- a safe and productive life.
I have a special message for America's young people. The
holiday season is here. It's a time for getting together with family and
friends, for gathering around a tree and exchanging gifts, for remembering our
faiths, and for celebrating. There's no happier time of the year, so let's work
together to keep it that way. When you go to holiday parties make sure someone
in your group doesn't drink, so he or she can drive everyone else home safely
to those who love them. In this festive season, Nancy and I both ask you --
for yourselves, for your family, for your country -- keep alcohol and cars
apart. Just say no to tragedy. Just say yes to happy holidays and a happy new
year for everyone that you care about.
I think there's something around here waiting for me to sign, and I'd better get
to it. [Laughter]
The President spoke at in Room 450 of the OldExecutiveOfficeBuilding. In his opening
remarks, he referred to Elizabeth Dole, Secretary of Transportation; Diane
Steed, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration;
David Stern, Commissioner of the National Basketball Association; Jerry Sachs,
president of the Capital Centre; Richard Benson, president of the International
Association of Auditorium Managers; Jim Aducci,
president of the American Baseball League; and Rhonda Leavenworth, president of
Students Against Driving Drunk at Washington and Lee High School in Arlington,