This press release has been written as an open letter to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Frank Busalacchi.
Dear Secretary Busalacchi,
Over the past several years we have repeatedly expressed our concern regarding state and federal agency representatives using the term "alcohol-related" as a surrogate for "drunk driver-caused" accidents. Your agency's recent press release (March 4, 2004 "More Than 1/3 Of Fatal Crashes Involve Alcohol") reinforces and amplifies that concern.
Any person of average intelligence and most members of the press are going to read your release and infer that 36 percent of traffic fatalities are caused by drunk drivers. The deliberately misleading and self-serving nature of this release overstates proven drunk driver "caused" fatal accidents by a factor of three. It is an incredible leap in logic to suggest that because one or more parties in a fatal accident had some evidence of alcohol in their system that the accident was caused by "drunk driving." Nevertheless, that is exactly what your agency's press release is intended to imply.
I could itemize all the reasons why distorting and misrepresenting this data is counterproductive and thereby results in great harm to decent responsible citizens, but that's been done in the past with no effect. Instead I'd like to offer up this challenge: The National Motorists Association will pay $10,000 to anyone in your agency, or anyone else for that matter, that can conclusively prove that drunk drivers caused 36 percent of the traffic fatalities in Wisconsin in 2002. I look forward to your response.
James J. Baxter National Motorists Association President