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Public Papers - 1990

Remarks at a White House Conference on Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness

1990-12-11

Thank you all very much. Chevy Chase has arrived. [Laughter] Let me first salute Jerry Curry, our Administrator, and Sam Skinner, the Secretary -- both of whom are doing an outstanding job. When I heard that this group was going to gather here, I just wanted to come by and encourage you to do even more and personally thank you for the tremendous job that you're doing to raise the awareness of drunk driving.

I firmly believe that drunk driving is a national crisis. Sam has driven this into my head day in and day out with his commitment to the cause. He and I have agreed that fighting this crisis is one of the key goals of our administration. Along with all the work that he and Mr. Curry have done at Transportation, I want to commend all the community groups, the different Points of Light we probably don't even know about, in a collective sense, all the groups -- certainly, those represented here that are engaged in this battle.

Mickey Sadoff, my heavens, what she's done -- head of the Mothers Against Drunk Driving -- we salute you, and I promise to stick my ribbon on one of the cars, if I can catch it out there. So, I hope you'll see it. But the activities of that group, along with those of so many others, including leaders in business, industry, and all across -- everywhere -- labor -- have helped dramatically alter the public perception of drinking and driving.

Progress has been made. I had a little session with Mickey in the hall. Nobody is relaxed about it. Everybody's still determined to do more. But progress has been made. The proportion of alcohol-related traffic deaths is down, as is the number of total drunk-driving fatalities.

Two other highlights of this year: a first-ever U.S. traffic safety summit this April in Chicago sponsored by Secretary Skinner, which generated new ideas for curbing drunk drivers, and approval by the U.S. Supreme Court for sobriety checkpoints, a major goal of the Department of Transportation.

This holiday season reminds us that this is a time for Americans to remember that drinking and driving is a deadly combination. That's why I was glad to see this joint effort between the Advertising Council and the Department of Transportation, which has begun to show up in print and on the television as well. This campaign has touched millions of Americans with its simple message of individual responsibility.

Speaking of responsibility, I'm on my way down the hall right now, right down from here, to our little studio to cut some public service announcements, encouraging designated drivers, just one of your many ideas that are making a difference.

So, thank you all; God bless you in your work, and I hope each and every one of you have a very Merry Christmas. Thank you so much.

Note: The President spoke at 2:07 p.m. in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. In his remarks, he referred to Jerry R. Curry, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

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