Driving is a privilege enjoyed by millions of Americans. It offers us freedom, mobility, and the chance to discover what lies over the next hill or around the next bend in the road. But driving also brings with it serious responsibilities. Among the most important of these is a driver's responsibility to stay sober. Tragically, many Americans ignore this responsibility.
Drunk or drugged drivers are a menace not only to themselves, but also to the communities in which they drive. Last year alone, they killed more than 17,000 of their fellow citizens and injured thousands more. Research has shown that teenage drivers and those aged 21 to 34 are most likely to drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
We must reaffirm our commitment to educate these and all drivers about the dangers of operating a vehicle after consuming alcohol or drugs, and we must strengthen law enforcement efforts that will prevent impaired drivers from getting behind the wheel in the first place. We must also work together as a national community to make drunk and drugged driving socially unacceptable, and continue to support educational programs and legislation that teach all our citizens the terrible risks of drunk and drugged driving. By doing so, we can prevent thousands of deaths and injuries each year and protect our families, our friends, and ourselves from becoming victims of this deadly behavior.
I am proud of the "Zero Alcohol Tolerance" legislation that 45 States and the District of Columbia have adopted, making it illegal for drivers under the age of 21 who have been drinking to drive a motor vehicle. I call upon all Americans, including policymakers, community leaders, State officials, parents, educators, health and medical professionals, and other concerned citizens to continue to support such legislation and to work together to save lives. I challenge American businesses to take a stand against impaired driving both on and off the job and to remember that an alcohol- and drug-free workplace is the right and responsibility of every worker. Finally, in memory of the thousands who have lost their lives to drunk and drugged drivers, I ask all motorists to participate in "National Lights on for Life Day" on Friday, December 19, 1997, by driving with vehicle headlights illuminated. In doing so, we will call attention to this critical national problem and remind others on the road of their responsibility to drive free of the influence of drugs and alcohol.
Now, Therefore, I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim December 1997 as National Drunk and Drugged Driving Prevention Month. I urge all Americans to recognize the dangers of impaired driving; to take responsibility for themselves and others around them; to prevent anyone under the influence of alcohol or drugs from getting behind the wheel; and to help teach our young people about the importance and the benefits of safe driving behavior.
In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this first day of December, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-seven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and twenty-second.
William J. Clinton
Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 8:45 a.m., December 3, 1997
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