Going All ‘Janet Napolitano’ on Drunk Driving

The “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign was designed to help law enforcement and homeland security forces gather intelligence which could prevent terrorist attacks. It’s meant to literally raise awareness … of your surroundings! The world we live in has changed so much in the years since the September 11th attacks. Now we are subjected to Orwellian messaging while we shop at Walmart and attend public events. “If You See Something, Say Something” has The Drudge Report calling Janet, ‘Big Sis’ as we are asked to watch each other for suspicious behavior.


So what does all this have to do with drunk driving? We are being asked to be proactive toward terrorism. After all, lives are at stake. By watching out for objects in strange places and people doing odd things, and by acting on what we see, we can potentially avert deadly attacks. In essence, it’s a nation-wide Neighborhood Watch campaign. Let’s consider a primary purpose of the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to be saving American lives. Now consider the lives lost to drunk driving every year.

Here is a simple chart with simple statistics comparing the fatalities of the 9/11 attacks to fatalities from the Iraq War to the fatalities from drunk driving.

Terrorism vs. Drunk Driving

There were nearly 11,000 drunk driving fatalities last year. This is lower than the average considering we are coming off of years of 12,000 and 13,000 deaths per year.

American casualties in the Iraq War total almost 4,300 since 2003. If the Iraq War went on for another 16 years, we’d have about as many fatalities as in one year from drunk driving.

9/11 casualties were just under 3,000. If there were three 9/11-style attacks in our country every year, it would not equal the deaths from drunk driving.

So how can “If You See Something, Say Something” impact drunk driving deaths? Over the past several years, I have googled news stories on a daily basis for the terms DUI, DWI, and OWI. I read many drunk driving news articles every day and there are several things I look for. One of them led me to a statistic we state on our Home page. I take note of whether a news story tells what the drunk driver was doing before getting into the car. In particular, I look for whether they were alone, or with other people. I kept track and after reading hundreds of news stories, it turns out that only 10% of drunk drivers are drinking in solitude before driving. 90% of all drunk driving happens after hanging, dining, or going out with friends, family, or coworkers. There is almost always somebody there who could prevent each instance of drunk driving.

But how, just by being there, can we prevent somebody from driving drunk? Well, we can’t. We can’t stop a terrorist at Walmart just by being there either. That’s why we are asked through the “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign to be vigilant, to know what others around us are doing, and to know what’s going on. We should know what is ‘normal’ so we can notice something ‘out of place’.

Applying the same concept to drunk driving means learning how alcohol interacts with the body, and how to properly wait after drinking before driving (even if you don’t drink). When you are with people who are drinking, try to take note of how much they are having and how much time passes before they leave. When you see drunk driving about to happen, step in and say something! Start a conversation and prevent that person from leaving. Don’t sit by and allow people, even strangers, to stagger away from you to get in their cars. Intervene.

By being observant and proactive, we can prevent acts of terrorism. By applying the same principle, we can dramatically reduce the deaths attributed to drunk driving. Now all we need is a DHS video campaign in places where people congregate to drink …

“If You See Drunk Driving About To Happen, Say Something”

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Allen Porter
Dedicated to teaching and inspiring the prevention of drunk driving.

10 Responses

  1. Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney
    Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney February 26, 2013 at 8:52 pm |

    As a personal injury attorney in California, I have seen my fair share of injuries and deaths caused by drunk drivers.

  2. Fairfax Personal Injury Lawyer
    Fairfax Personal Injury Lawyer August 20, 2012 at 6:19 am |

    the graph says it all. we are all up in arms over the 9/11 but we are much quieter when it comes to drunk driving.

  3. Ronald Richer
    Ronald Richer August 2, 2011 at 8:55 am |

    Your reference to the number of Sept. 11 and entire Iraq war victims and casualties in comparison to the number of people associated with drunk driving is staggering to say the least. The graph makes a bold statement, a necessary one. Thank you for posting it, and spreading the word about the effects of drunk driving.

  4. Accrington Driving School
    Accrington Driving School July 30, 2011 at 11:10 am |

    These figures shaw that a lot of work needs to be done by our government to reduce this loss of life and sooner they start better it will be for everyone.

  5. Accrington Driving
    Accrington Driving July 30, 2011 at 10:02 am |

    Tou have made the point that we have huge amount of lif e lost on rour roads and many can be saved by introducing strict laws about drink driving.

  6. Carl
    Carl April 15, 2011 at 3:34 pm |

    I just recently wrote an article for my site about motorcycle touring. It was title are DUI’s on the rise. It stemmed from a conversation I had recently & my anger for the loss of life on a regular basis. Just a week ago right down the road from where I live, a 20 year old kid was killed as a passenger when the driver who had been drinking went off the road & hit a tree. The road was closed for over 12 hours for investigation & the driver lived. The money that drinking & driving costs tax payers is ridiculous, but worse than that, the lives it destroys.

    As a motorcycle rider I don’t want to come around a corner one day and be killed by some idiot in a car who has been drinking. Thank you for having a site that helps bring awareness to the issue.

  7. Prof. M.Browne
    Prof. M.Browne April 13, 2011 at 4:18 am |

    Drunk driving is one of the single biggest reasons that people end up their lives in wheelchairs. So often it is the innocent bystander or unfortunate diriver who gets hit by a worthless drunk. We have cracked down a lot here in the UK but penalties just have to higher all round.

  8. Ty Cane
    Ty Cane April 7, 2011 at 3:54 pm |

    I would like to say thank you for posting the numbers on the fatalities. I have lost 2 family members to drunk drivers and another handful of friends. I gave my life in a career of the US military and seen many lives taken. Its sad to return back to my country from fighting for our freedom and see the way drinking and driving has taken so many lives. I have a company in health and wellness for rehab and people that just want to live a healthy and longer lives. I agree 100% we need to stop this problem we have in our country. I want to say once again thank you for recognizing and publishing the numbers.


  9. Dave
    Dave April 6, 2011 at 1:07 pm |

    It is amazing that most people would never think of the number of fatalities in comparison to 911 as you have shown. I would have to say it made me think. I was speaking with a police officer that I know just last week. Their statement to me was that they are looking forward to the better weather coming but that it also comes with a cost. One of those being more people drinking & driving. I was amazed as I asked her ” isn’t the number of people committing this act decreasing”? She said it never seems to drop, the # of people who fail a breathalyzer is unbelievable.

    I think we put too much focus on alcohol in our lives. We need to learn to be happy & enjoy life without it. If more people could think like this we would see a big decrease in the drinking & driving. “Lets wake up people”.


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