Drunk driving is a continuous problem in the USA. Every year more than 10,000 American citizens are killed in car crashes caused by drunk drivers. Below is an attempt to lower this number. Also, I have presented three current scenarios whereby the problem is, or could be, an ever-increasing problem.
A PROPOSED LAW THAT COULD HELP SOLVE SOME OF THE CURRENT DRINKING PROBLEMS & CONCERNS IN THE USA
Early this month (February, 2012), legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives to provide financial incentives to states that require all convicted drunk drivers to use an ignition interlock device. Ignition interlocks devices require a driver to breathe into the device before he or she can start the car. If the alcohol level on the breath is too high the car will not start. Ignition interlocks are a key component of MADD’s (Mother’s Against Drunk Driving) Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®. The IOGT-USA supports their use as well and encourages members to write their congressmen in support of this bill.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control has reviewed research on this approach and recommends that all drunk drivers be required to use these devices to reduce DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) recidivism.
These ignition interlocks could help in the following cases:
As community members work to bring back the South Side Irish Parade after a three-year hiatus, Mayor Rahm Emanuel is expressing doubts that the famously raucous event will be able to stick to the condition that it runs an alcohol-free operation this year.
The parade, a Chicago tradition since 1979, was disbanded after the 2009 installment was packed with nearly 300,000 people, many intoxicated, leading to dozens of arrests, assaults on police and damage to local property. But the Department of Transportation accepted the parade committee’s application for a permit last month, on the condition that alcohol would be absent from what proponents insist is a celebration of Irish heritage, not partying.
A major issue is how to prevent any of these “paraders” from driving their cars while intoxicated especially since the State of Illinois does not have an ignition interlock law.
The parade is tentatively scheduled for March 11th. I’ll keep you posted as to whether or not it happens.
2. WHAT TO DO ABOUT WRONG-WAY DRIVERS
An example of a wrong-way driver is one who is driving north in the southbound lanes of a expressway. There were 38 such crashes in the State of Illinois last year. “The vast majority of these wrong-way drivers are alcohol-impaired, and alcohol impairment is a concern in terms of traffic safety” according to Daniel Filiatrault, the project manager for the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) study of wrong-way driving.
Filiatrault and other experts suggest that emerging technology could prevent drunken drivers from leaving their parking spots. This could include ignition interlocks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has found that drinking isn’t just for college students anymore – and it probably never was. “New estimates show that binge drinking is a bigger problem than previously thought. More than 38 million US adults binge drink, about 4 times a month, and the largest number of drinks per binge is on average 8. This behavior greatly increases the chances of getting hurt or hurting others due to car crashes, violence, and suicide. “
Another reason for having ignition interlocks.
The legislation that has been introduced in Congress is just one step in the prevention of drunk driving. Even if this legislation were passed, it would be only applicable to those who had already been found guilty of one or more DWIs. It would not yet meet the measure of a total prevention technique. We may someday have all vehicles equipped with ignition interlocks whether you have a history of drinking or not.
And a further step is the need to have the blood level for intoxication be adjusted downwards. It now is .08 in the USA – and that suggests to many drinkers that they can drink to that level and still drive safely. They, therefore, ignore all of the “Don’t Drink and Drive” admonitions.
For more reading:
See the Chicago Tribune articles on the South Side Parade
Check out the work of MADD against drunk driving