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Koop Urged to Attack Drunk Driving

Associated Press

Ninety-nine senators asked Surgeon General C. Everett Koop on Monday to declare drunk driving a “national crisis,” but Koop said he believed the problem was most effectively handled locally.

At a news conference, Koop said that “we must be clear on one major point: When the American people, acting at the community and state levels, decide they want to get drunk drivers off our roads, that’s when it will happen.”

Koop said, however, that on June 15 a member of his staff will begin developing a plan his office can use to support efforts by citizens groups to reduce drunk driving. He declined to say what the initiative would be.

Pressed on whether he would declare the “national crisis,” he said: “I don’t think it takes a surgeon general to declare a crisis when everybody knows there is a crisis.”

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In a letter handed to Koop at the conference, where several senators and members of private groups called for a federal effort to bring attention to the problem, the senators wrote that about 24,000 people are killed and 43,000 seriously injured in alcohol-related automobile accidents each year.

Sens. John W. Warner (R-Va.) and Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.), who wrote the letter, said they were satisfied with what the surgeon general said he would do. The only senator who did not sign the letter is Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), who is recuperating from surgery.


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