(Washington, D.C.) - Today Senator Murray spoke at a press conference commemorating the worst drunk driving accident in American history.

Her remarks follow:

Thank you, Wendy [Hamilton, President of MADD]. Thank you all for being here this morning. We are here today for two reasons. First, we are here to mark the anniversary of the worst drunk driving accident in U.S. history. And second, we are here to raise public awareness about the need to reduce alcohol-related deaths on our roads and highways.

Fifteen years ago, the world changed forever for the families of passengers of a school bus in Kentucky – all because of the irresponsible actions of one drunk driver. That driver was a 34-year-old repeat drunk driving offender with a blood-alcohol level twice the legal limit. He survived the crash.

I know we have with us today some of the parents of the children who were killed in that horrible accident, and one of the survivors – thank you for being with us.

Your presence here today puts a very personal face on a problem that must be addressed in a very public way.

Sadly, the consequences of drunk driving are repeated over and over again every day across America.

Nearly every thirty minutes of every single day, someone is lost to an alcohol-related accident. And nearly three out of every 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related crash at some time in their lives.

Behind each of these devastating statistics is a person – a parent, child, brother or sister, spouse, grandparent or friend.

Through most of the 1990s, we had been making progress in reducing the number of alcohol-related fatalities on U.S. roads and highways.

But in 2002, for the third year in a row, alcohol-related traffic fatalities increased, to nearly 18,000 deaths.

I’m here today because I’m committed to making sure that no family must go through what the families in Kentucky endured fifteen years ago – and what they continue to live with everyday.

As the former Chair -- and current ranking member -- of the Senate Transportation Appropriations Subcommittee, I was proud that we were able to increase the funding for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s drunk driving programs by 36 percent over the President’s budget request in 2003.

In addition, I fought to ensure that we included a national media campaign to accompany the drunk driving mobilization efforts that will occur in July and December. And I am proud to have been a strong supporter of the .08 law, to reduce the legal limit for drinking and driving.

It is my sincere hope that these efforts will help to reduce the number of drunk-driving deaths in this country.

As Congress prepares to reauthorize the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), it is critically important that we all work together to develop a comprehensive and thoughtful program to reduce the number of drunk driving deaths.

I look forward to working with the Mothers Against Drunk Driving; my colleagues in the Senate and the House; and, with Chairman Engelman and the National Transportation Safety Board as we move ahead. As the families here can tell you, this is critical work.