1 in 10 Drunk Driving Deaths Occur in Texas. Over to You, Legislature.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), who keep track of such things, tell us that 1 in 10 road deaths due to alcohol happen in the state of Texas. Proud of its tradition as an outlier and forerunner in so many fields, Texas also has the misfortune to lead the country in this insane race to the graveyard.

Texas-DUI-DeathsLet’s clarify: In 2013 Texas had 1,337 road deaths due to alcohol. In the same year, California, whose population is more than 40 percent larger, had 1,025.

Texas’s statistic on total alcohol related crashes is similarly perplexing: 25,479 that same year. Handling the fatalities alone cost the state more than $6 billion.

As we’ve noted before, a bill has been proposed which will help Texas join the many states – twenty-four of them, with more debating similar measures – who require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

As always, there is some resistance to the proposal. Some of it comes from well-intentioned people who consider the interlock a too-harsh “punishment” for a first DUI offense. In fact, first DUI offenders are rarely first-time drunk drivers: statistics show that a person arrested for DUI has already driven impaired an average of 80 times.

The interlock device, moreover, is easily gotten used to, and is not punitive provided you don’t drink and drive.

What ignition interlocks do is reduce drunk driving recidivism. Texas’s neighbors to the west, New Mexico and Arizona, saw immense reductions in drunk driving fatalities after passing all-offender DUI laws. The same would happen in Texas, on a much larger scale.

Probably no state is as immediately associated with the word “pride” as Texas is. The state legislature has a chance to pass House Bill 2246, which prevents drunk drivers from re-offending, and thus will, in one swoop, make the state a much safer place to drive.

Note to Texas: the eyes of the country are upon you.