2018 Child Endangerment Report



In 2002, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) twice convened a panel of experts to develop practical policy recommendations for one of the nation’s most pressing child endangerment problems: children riding in vehicles with impaired drivers. Recommendations were ultimately outlined in the 2004 Child Endangerment Report, Every Child Deserves a Designated Driver. Most states now have endangerment statutes. Forty-six states (an increase from 35 in 2004) and the District of Columbia currently have statutes that create special sanctions in cases of driving under the influence/driving while intoxicated (DUI/DWI) while the offender is transporting a child. Seven states treat the criminal penalty as a felony. Eight states have yet to make modifications to their laws to better safeguard children. Despite these laws, child deaths caused by impaired driving continue to be a devastating but wholly preventable national tragedy. Prior to the convening of the first panel of experts and during the five-year period of 1997-2001, 1,985 child passengers died and an estimated 87,226 were injured in alcohol-related crashes. Of these, 68 percent of the deaths and 38 percent of the injuries occurred among children who were riding in the same vehicle with the drinking driver. Only 29 percent were known to have been restrained (restraint use was unknown for 9 percent of child passenger deaths). 1 Fifteen years later, in 2016, of the 1,233 children killed in traffic crashes, 214 children (17 percent) were killed in alcohol-impaired driving crashes. Of these 214 deaths, 54 percent were passengers of vehicles with alcohol-impaired drivers, and 46 percent of these children were unrestrained. Recognizing the importance of the research and efforts to protect children from being endangered by impaired drivers, MADD convened a present-day panel of experts with support from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Their job was to identify the problem and status of child endangerment in the United States as it applies to impaired driving and to examine if enhancing penalties has been effective and if they are still appropriate for future support. The panel of experts offered specific knowledge and expertise and helped to identify possible solutions. Issues related to child endangerment were examined from legislative, law enforcement, judicial/prosecutorial, child protective service agencies, public awareness, and victim perspectives. This report reflects the results of the 2017 Child Endangerment Expert Panel and is an update to the 2004 Child Endangerment Report, Every Child Deserves a Designated Driver. While some considerations are consistent with the original report, this report provides an updated review of the issue and includes revised recommendations that address the current state of child endangerment by impaired drivers.

1997-2001 drunk driving child fatalities

397 per year avg.


due to drunk driving child endangerment

2016 drunk driving child fatalities 214


due to drunk driving child endangerment

1 2004 MADD Child Endangerment Report


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