Alcohol-related car accidents are among the leading cause of death in the United States. According to new research, about half of all fatal car accidents where a child is killed is due, in some part, to alcohol. Despite having some of the toughest alcohol laws in the world, the United States still sees thousands of lives lost to the dangerous combination of alcohol and driving. In an effort to reduce this statistic, some researchers have released a study that shows the possibility of a decrease in these deaths of more strict alcohol laws are enacted.
“To reduce alcohol-related crash deaths among youth, it is important to strengthen policies that focus on adults, not just youth, and that focus on drinking, not just driving,” commented Dr. Tim Naimi, an alcohol epidemiologist at Boston University’s School of Medicine. This means that the most effective policies often have little to do with drink driving or underage drinking. In fact, policies like increasing taxes on alcohol beverages, or reducing the number of stores that can sell alcohol in an area, or limiting the times that alcohol can be sold are among the most effective policies in eliminating drunk driving deaths.
A focus on this approach has gained some media attention as the best way to reduce alcohol-related violence, deaths and misconduct and it appears that many states are coming on board. For instance, the states with the strictest alcohol policies reported a decrease of 9% when it came to youth-related deaths from incidents involving alcohol. And often children who are killed in crashes where alcohol is involved were not driving and were not drinking. The data shows that almost half of the youth killed in these crashes were not driving, and 80% of those victims were passengers in a car being driven by an adult who was under the influence of alcohol.
While these new policies could help with the mortality rate in alcohol-related events, it is important to note that researchers are not advocating lesser laws or punishment for drunk drivers. Broader policies are effective, but in conjunction with strict drink driving policies and laws is where the real results are seen.
Drunk driving is one of the leading causes of preventable death in our country. Drivers who get behind the wheel of a car after they have been drinking is a threat to an entire community. Police all over the country spend countless hours monitoring the roads for signs of a person who has been drinking too much in an effort to help keep other travelers safe.
In addition to the drunk driving problem our country is experiencing, many drunk drivers are repeat offenders. While the punishment is stiff for driving under the influence, it has not deterred many from getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol even if they have already been convicted of drunk driving.
The state of Wisconsin recently tallied up the number of drunk driving incidents that were committed by someone who already had a record of drunk driving. They found that 33 percent of their drunk driving cases were with people who had been already been convicted. These repeat offenders are putting an entire state at risk and public officials and law enforcement felt it was time that something was done about this.
Instead of increasing the fines or jail time convicted drunk drivers face, the state of Wisconsin is looking to prevent the growing alcohol problem altogether. People who have already been convicted of driving under the influence must submit blood and fingernail samples so their alcohol use can be monitored. When a person is convicted of a DUI they are required to undergo one year of monitoring. During the year-long monitoring process people are less likely to drink and drive, and positive samples can help deter them to treatment programs.
“The goal is not to catch people. It’s to get them sober, so that they’re not killing someone on the road, and that they actually discover that there’s another life out there,” explained Doug Lewis, president of the company that is analyzing the blood and fingernail samples.
As part of a statewide DUI enforcement initiative in Arizona, police are cracking down on drunk drivers. According to data released after Labor Day, more people used designate drivers this year compared to last. One might assume that this means there were less DUI arrests made this year compared to last, but there were 16 percent more Labor Day DUIs this year. That’s 582 DUI arrests in total, while the average blood-alcohol content remained the same from last year at .145, according to the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety’s figures.
The DUI enforcement initiative is also aiming to penalize those who drive under the influence of drugs, not just alcohol. Arrests for suspected drug use while driving was up 21 percent from last Labor Day, which is a total of 103 people.
The amount of people under the age of 21 that were drinking this Labor Day weekend also grew from 2013. Police gave out almost twice as many citations to underage drinkers as they did last year.
In an effort to keep Arizona citizens safe, nearly 2,000 officers helped to police the streets of Arizona this Labor Day weekend. The long holiday can be a dangerous time when people are drinking during the day at barbecues or while watching football games. With so much alcohol-related activity, the risk of alcohol-related accidents or fatalities spikes. To control the risk, Arizona law enforcement officials established checkpoints on major roads and patrolled popular streets to deter people from driving under the influence and to arrest those who are driving drunk or on drugs.
The reports tallied up the number of arrests and citations Thursday through Monday. The Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety reported the final results that confirmed the law enforcement officials were doing their job to keep dangerous drivers off the roads.