In the United States, three out of every four Americans supports the idea of imposing tougher penalties to prevent intoxicated driving. Intoxicated driving remains a major cause of traffic deaths in this country, playing a role in as many as 40 percent of fatal car accidents. Drunk driving accident lawyers in Houston note someone is injured every two minutes and killed every half hour in a crash involving an intoxicated motorist. In Texas alone, 1,296 people lost their lives in drunk driving accidents last year according to the NHTSA.
Because drunk drivers are such a menace on the roads, it is imperative that intoxicated driving be discouraged. Laws prohibiting drunk driving and imposing strict penalties on intoxicated drivers aim to reduce the number of drunk people on the road. Public service campaigns and other techniques are also used to try to discourage the practice of driving drunk. The National Safety Council (NSC) has recently provided a summary of some of the techniques and methods that are used to reduce intoxicated driving.
Fighting Against Drunk Driving
The techniques used to fight against drunk driving include:
- High-visibility enforcement of drunk driving laws. Sobriety check points are one important example of this, since people see these checkpoints and are reminded of how easy it is to get caught driving drunk. Public service announcements and campaigns that alert the public that the police will be stepping up efforts to enforce drunk driving laws can also help to deter drunk drivers. These types of campaigns are usually run around holidays like Labor Day and New Years Eve when there is a high risk of drunk driving.
- Screening and brief intervention. Many employers will offer screening and brief intervention services as part of the health benefits packages that workers get with their jobs. These programs have been shown to be the least costly way to reach people with drinking problems to help them get help and avoid dangerous behaviors.
- Ignition interlock devices. Ignition interlock devices are installed after some drunk driving convictions and they work by preventing a driver from starting his car or continuing to operate the vehicle unless he can blow into a breath test and show that he is sober. IIDs are a very effective tool in the fight against drunk driving because a third of the 1.5 million impaired drivers arrested annually has offended once in the past. To try to make IIDs more effective at stopping drunk driving, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is urging states to change their laws and mandate ignition interlock devices for every drunk driving offender.
- Prosecution support. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is considering the creation of DWI courts and exploring ways to provide more support to prosecutors to increase the conviction rate for drunk driving offenders.
Techniques to reduce drunk driving were very effective during the 1980s and 1990s and hopefully efforts to stop people from driving while impaired can continue to bring down the drunk driving death toll. Victims harmed in drunk driving accidents should also take legal action to hold the intoxicated motorist accountable.