Despite the big gains made during the 1980s and 1990s in reducing impaired driving deaths, progress has leveled off. Today, about 40 percent of vehicle crash deaths still involve alcohol. To once again bring major reductions in fatalities, national and state organizations are rallying around several specific and effective strategies, and certain populations of drivers:
SBI is effective at reducing risky drinking and alcohol-related problems. Employers can provide SBI through Employee Assistance Programs and other health benefits. Problem drinking occurs when alcohol is used in a way that can be harmful to the drinker or others, causing injury, disease or other health problems. An analysis of over 360 research studies found that SBI is the most cost-effective strategy to reduce risky drinking and help people with drinking problems get effective treatment. The traffic safety community is taking notice of SBI to help reduce impaired driving. Resources:
NSC's Texas Employer Traffic Safety Program impaired driving prevention website explains how SBI works and shares links to sample online screenings.
Workplace Screening & Brief Intervention: What Employers Can and Should Do About Excessive Alcohol Use Employers have promoted screening and treatment for illnesses like diabetes, heart disease, and depression. This report explains applying similar strategies to problem drinking.
Alcohol Screening and Brief Intervention Overview This 2005 NHTSA publication shares what this strategy is and how to promote it.
SBI - The Nation's New Intervention Strategy to Stop Impaired Driving NHTSA provides links to resources and national partners supporting SBI.
21 Minimum Drinking Age Law
Support 21 Coalition Formed in response to the debate about the 21 Minimum Drinking Age Law, to educate the public about the scientific research behind the law and how it saves lives. At this site, find a history of the drinking age law, information about how alcohol affects the teen brain, and resources and tips for parents, educators and communities to prevent underage drinking.
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Status Report The December 2008 newsletter summarizes research on the effectiveness of age 21 laws. According to IIHS, "Sometimes research findings are mixed, so they can be, and often are, used to support competing policy positions. But sometimes research findings are so crystal clear that there’s not much room for dissension. This is true when it comes to the minimum age for legally purchasing alcohol, often referred to as the drinking age."
High Visibility Enforcement
NHTSA's National Crackdown Campaign Headquarters has free materials for enforcement and public outreach campaigns at strategic times throughout the year: Labor Day, Halloween, National Teen Driver Safety Week, etc. Campaigns include "Buzzed Driving is Drunk Driving," "Over the Limit. Under Arrest" and "Friends Don't Let Friends Drive Drunk."
Eight Case Studies of Sustained, High-Visibility, Impaired-Driving Enforcement
Sobriety checkpoints add to the public's perception of increased likelihood of being caught, reducing impaired driving as prevention. Research finds them effective at reducing alcohol-related crashes by about 20 percent, according to the CDC. Not all states can conduct sobriety checkpoints. Resources:
Sobriety Checkpoint Laws The Governors Highway Safety Association provides a current list on status of state use of sobriety checkpoints.
The Community Guide - Sobriety Checkpoints Learn more about the strong evidence of sobriety checkpoint effectiveness in reducing alcohol-impaired driving, alcohol-related crashes, and fatal and nonfatal injuries.
Repeat offenders are a significant factor in impaired driving crashes. According to NHTSA, of the 1.5 million impaired driving arrests each year, one-third involve repeat offenders. This population of offenders may need a prevention strategy that's more intensive than education and enforcement. Ignition interlock technology can be effective at reducing impaired driving while it is installed on the vehicle. In almost every state, judges can order interlocks for drunk driving offenders. Resources:
NHTSA Ignition Interlock Meeting: The Use of Alcohol Ignition Interlocks for Reducing Impaired Driving Recidivism Interlocks are used for about 20 percent of cases for which they could be prescribed. In 2007, NHTSA convened a meeting with representatives of the judicial system to discuss the role of alcohol ignition interlocks in reducing drunk driving fatalities.