Drunk Driving: We Can Prevent It
Hard core drunk drivers are responsible for a
large proportion of alcohol-related crashes, injuries and fatalities.
For their own safety and that of others, it's important to identify
such drivers, remove them from the road, provide effective treatment,
and bring about behavior change before permitting them to drive
About half of all alcohol-related traffic accident fatalities involve
drivers with a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of about .16 or
higher. A significant proportion of such high-BAC drivers are hard
core drunk drivers; they repeatedly abuse alcohol and drive while
intoxicated. Hard core drunk drivers are a major threat to the safety
of themselves and others.
An organization committed to reducing drunk driving, the Century
Council, promotes a three-pronged approach to reducing the problem.
- Swift Identification. It is important to detect hardcore offenders
as early as possible in the progression of their drunk-driving
careers. Once identified as hardcore drunk drivers, it is then
important to prevent them from driving until fundamental behavior
change has occurred.
- Certain Punishment. The perception that punishment is certain
has much greater deterrent effect than severity of punishment,
a fact repeatedly demonstrated by research.
- Effective Treatment. Providing effective treatment is essential
to reducing hardcore drunk driving because, regardless of the
punishment imposed, offenders will eventually begin driving again.
The only way to prevent offenders from drinking and driving is
treatment that brings about fundamental changes in behavior.
The Century Council advocates comprehensive programs that: 1
- Ensure that offenders are charged to the proper level;
- Provide prosecutors with accurate and complete information to
obtain a conviction;
- Assure that sanctions are connected and reinforce each other;
- Verify compliance with sentencing terms;
- Assist in determining appropriate treatment based on previous
record and intervention efforts;
- Provide accurate data to detect trends and determine the effectiveness
of the overall system.
The organization promotes: 2
- Sanctions such as dedicated detention facilities, electric
monitoring, ignition interlocks, and vehicle impoundment or confiscation
- Increased fines and vehicle impoundment for driving with a
- Accurate and uniform DUI tracking systems
- Assessment of all individuals convicted of driving while intoxicated
- Appropriate treatment for all repeat offenders
- Graduated penalties for drivers with higher BACs
penalties for higher BACs are long overdue. Currently, drivers who
speed 50 miles per hour over the speed limit receive higher penalties
than those who speed 10 miles per hour over the speed limit. Similarly,
drunk drivers with a BAC of .20 should receive higher penalties
than those with a BAC of .10 The risk of accidents increases dramatically
as the BAC climbs higher and penalties should rise dramatically
1. The Century Council. Looking
Back, Moving Forward. Washington, DC: The Century Council, n.d. (booklet).
For a free copy of this publication contact the Council at [email protected]
or call (202) 637-0079.
Readings (Listing does not imply endorsement)
Drinking and driving by teens, impaired driving, DWI, drink driving, traffic crash
statistics, and related topics on the subject of drinking, driving,
and young people are covered by these readings.
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Research Institute, 1997.
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Berardelli, P. Safe Young Drivers: A Guide for Parents and Teens.
McLean, VA: EPM, 1996.
Brookhuis, K. A., et al. The effects of mobile telephoning
on driving performance. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 1991,
Campbell, K. E., et al. Trends in Alcohol-Related Fatal
Traffic Accidents. Bethesda, MD: United States Public Health Service,
Catchpole, J. Why are Young Drivers Over-Represented in Traffic
Accidents? Vermont, South, Victoria, Australia: Australian Road
Research Board, 1994.
Doherty, S. T. Young drivers and graduated licensing: the Ontario
case. Transportation, 1997, 24(3), 227-251.
Donelson, , A. C., et al. The Role of Alcohol in Fatal Traffic
Crashes: British Columbia. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Traffic Safety
Research Foundation, 1989.
Duncan, D. F. Chronic drinking, binge drinking, and drunk driving.
Psychological Reports, 1987, 80(2), 681.
Engs, R. C., and Hanson, D. J. Drinking games and problems related
to drinking among moderate and heavy drinkers. Psychological Reports,
1993, 73, 175-181.
Frisbie, T. Talking mobile. Traffic Safety, 1991, 91(2),
Haines, M. P. A Social Norms Approach to Preventing Binge Drinking
at Colleges and Universities. Newton, MA: Higher Education Center
for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, 1996. (This very useful book
is available free by calling 1-800-676-1730.)
Hans, M. Innovative programs target young drivers. Traffic Safety,
1996, 96(5), 6-9.
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cigarette use among adolescents. Preventive Medicine, 1991,
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National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Youth Fatal Crash
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National Commission Against Drunk Driving and Harvard Alcohol Project,
Center for Health Communication of Harvard School of Public Health.
A Guide to Community-Based Designated Driver Programs.
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a Community-Based Designated Driver Program. U.S. Department of
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Incidence and
Role of Drugs in Fatally Injured Drivers. Washington, D. C.: National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1993.
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Facts, 1997: Young Adults. Washington, D.C.: National Highway
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Petica, S. Risks of cellular phone usage in the car and its impact
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Use, Consequences, and Perceptions of the College Environment.
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University Press, 1992.
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during the transition to young adulthood. Developmental Psychology,
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Simpson, H. M., and Mayhew, D. R. The Hard Core Drinking Driver.
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: Traffic Safety Research Foundation, 1991.
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