What Works: Strategies to Reduce or Prevent Alcohol-Impaired Driving

The strategies in this section are effective for reducing alcohol-impaired driving. *  They are recommended by The Guide to Community Preventive Services, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Different strategies might require different resources for implementation or have different levels of impact. This information can help decision makers and community partners see gaps and identify the most effective strategies to reduce alcohol-impaired driving.

Lower Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) Limits

Alcohol-impaired driving laws make it illegal to drive with a BAC at or above a specified level (0.05 grams per deciliter [g/dL] or 0.08 g/dL, depending on the state). Globally, most high-income countries have BAC laws set at 0.05 g/dL or lower, 1,2  and these laws are effective for reducing crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers and deaths from these crashes. These laws serve as a general deterrent and reduce alcohol-impaired driving even among drivers who are at highest risk of impaired driving. Utah implemented a 0.05 g/dL BAC law in 2018. This law was associated with an 18% reduction in the crash death rate per mile driven in the first year after it went into effect. The new law was also associated with lower alcohol involvement in crashes. 3

Other Laws and Policies That Can Reduce Access to Alcohol and Alcohol-Impaired Driving

Zero tolerance laws make it illegal for people under age 21 to drive with any measurable amount of alcohol in their systems. These laws and laws that maintain the minimum legal drinking age at 21 are in place in all 50 states and D.C. They have saved tens of thousands of lives. Maintaining these laws is critical.

Policies that make alcohol less accessible, available, and affordable are effective for reducing drinking to impairment and can also help to prevent alcohol-impaired driving. Some examples include increasing taxes on alcohol and regulating alcohol outlet density to reduce the number of retailers that can sell alcohol in a particular location.

Publicized Sobriety Checkpoints

Publicized sobriety checkpoints allow law enforcement officers to briefly stop vehicles at specific, highly visible locations to check drivers for impairment. Officers may stop all or a certain portion of drivers. Sobriety checkpoints should be well publicized, such as through mass media campaigns, and conducted regularly for greatest impact.

High-Visibility Saturation Patrols

High-visibility saturation patrols consist of a large number of law enforcement officers patrolling a specific area, usually at times and locations where crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers are more common. These patrols should be well publicized and conducted regularly just like sobriety checkpoints.

Ignition Interlocks

Ignition interlocks for all people convicted of alcohol-impaired driving, including first-time offenders, can be installed in vehicles to measure alcohol on a drivers’ breath. Interlocks keep vehicles from starting if drivers have a BAC above a certain level, usually 0.02 g/dL. Interlocks are highly effective at preventing repeat offenses while installed. Incorporating alcohol use disorder assessment and treatment into interlock programs shows promise in reducing repeat offenses even after interlocks are removed. 4

Alcohol Use Disorder Assessment and Treatment Programs

People who have alcohol use disorder (AUD) can benefit from long-term, tailored, and specialized treatment programs. Ideally people would receive treatment for AUD before committing an alcohol-impaired driving offense. However, when people are arrested for alcohol-impaired driving, this can serve as an opportunity to assess drinking habits and refer them for brief interventions (described below) or specialized treatment. Treatment for people with AUD who are convicted of alcohol-impaired driving is most effective when combined with other strategies (such as ignition interlocks) and when offenders are closely monitored. Treatment should not replace other strategies or remove alcohol-impaired driving sanctions from a person’s record. Assessment and treatment are critical to the success of driving while impaired (DWI) courts, which are specialized courts focused on changing the behavior of people who are convicted of alcohol-impaired driving.

Alcohol Screening and Brief Interventions 5,6

Alcohol screening and brief interventions typically focus on identifying people who drink alcohol excessively  but do not have AUD. Ideally people would be identified before committing an alcohol-impaired driving offense. However, an alcohol-impaired driving arrest can be used as an opportunity to screen people for excessive alcohol use. Brief interventions involve assessing readiness, motivators, and barriers to behavior change. These interventions can be delivered in person or electronically (such as on computers or cell phone apps) in many settings, such as hospitals, doctor’s offices, and universities.

Multi-Component Interventions

Multi-component interventions combine several programs or policies to reduce alcohol-impaired driving. The key to these comprehensive efforts is community mobilization, in which coalitions or task forces help design and implement interventions.

School-Based Instructional Programs

School-based instructional programs are beneficial for teaching teens not to ride with alcohol-impaired drivers.

* Unless otherwise noted by a numbered reference, the content for this page comes exclusively from the following sources:

  • The Community Preventive Services Task Force (CPSTF) Findings for Motor Vehicle Injury
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Countermeasures That Work: A Highway Safety Countermeasures Guide for State Highway Safety Offices, Tenth Edition, 2020 [PDF – 641 pages]
  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine; Health and Medicine Division; Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice; Committee on Accelerating Progress to Reduce Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities. Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: A Comprehensive Approach to a Persistent Problem . Negussie Y, Geller A, Teutsch SM, editors. Washington, DC: National Academies Press (US) ; 2018.
  • Dellinger AM, Yellman MA. Chapter 170: Road Safety and Injury Prevention . Maxcy-Rosenau-Last Public Health & Preventive Medicine , 16e . Boulton ML, Wallace RB, editors. McGraw Hill ; 2022.

CDC Impaired Driving fact sheet - Georgia page

Working together, we can keep alcohol-impaired drivers off the road.  Fact sheets are available for each state and the District of Columbia. They include national and state data on alcohol-impaired driving and crash deaths involving alcohol-impaired drivers, as well as an overview of proven strategies for reducing and preventing alcohol-impaired driving.

  • Impaired Driving: Get the Facts
  • Data and Resources for States and Tribes
  • Motor Vehicle Prioritizing Interventions and Cost Calculator for States (MV PICCS)*

*CDC offers an interactive calculator to help state decision makers prioritize and select from a suite of 14 effective motor vehicle injury prevention interventions. MV PICCS is designed to calculate the expected number of injuries prevented and lives saved at the state level and the costs of implementation, while considering available resources.

  • World Health Organization. Global status report on road safety 2018 . Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization; 2018.
  • Yellman MA, Sauber-Schatz EK. Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths — United States and 28 Other High-Income Countries, 2015 and 2019 . MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep . 2022;71:837–843. doi:10.15585/mmwr.mm7126a1
  • Thomas FD, Blomberg R, Darrah J, Graham L, Southcott T, Dennert R, Taylor E, Treffers R, Tippetts S, McKnight S, Berning A. Evaluation of Utah’s .05 BAC per se law (Report No. DOT HS 813 233) . Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); February 2022.
  • Voas RB, Tippetts AS, Bergen G, Grosz M, Marques P. Mandating treatment based on interlock performance: evidence for effectiveness . Alcohol Clin Exp Res . 2016;40(9):1953–1960. doi:10.1111/acer.13149
  • Tansil KA, Esser MB, Sandhu P, Reynolds JA, Elder RW, Williamson RS, Chattopadhyay SK, Bohm MK, Brewer RD, McKnight-Eily LR, Hungerford DW, Toomey TL, Hingson RW, Fielding JE; Community Preventive Services Task Force. Alcohol Electronic Screening and Brief Intervention: A Community Guide Systematic Review . Am J Prev Med . 2016;51(5):801–811. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2016.04.013
  • U.S. Preventive Services Task Force. Final Recommendation Statement – Unhealthy Alcohol Use in Adolescents and Adults: Screening and Behavioral Counseling Interventions . U.S. Preventive Services Task Force; November 2018.

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Technology to stop drunk drivers could be coming to every new car in the nation

Joe Hernandez

drunk driving prevention articles

Los Angeles Police Department officers check drivers at a DUI checkpoint in Reseda, Los Angeles, California on April 13, 2018. Mark Ralston/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

Los Angeles Police Department officers check drivers at a DUI checkpoint in Reseda, Los Angeles, California on April 13, 2018.

Federal automobile regulators say they've taken the first step toward making technology that prevents drunk and impaired driving standard in new cars.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Tuesday that such technology could help end a problem that kills thousands of people in the U.S. each year.

"Impaired driving crashes are 100% preventable – there's simply no excuse or reason to drive impaired by alcohol or drugs," NHTSA acting administrator Ann Carlson said in a statement.

The advance notice of proposed rulemaking announced by the agency is a preliminary stage in the creation of new federal rules.

According to NHTSA, it will allow regulators to collect information about the current state of technology used to detect and prevent impaired driving and figure out if it could be implemented nationwide.

Some technologies in development include breath and touch sensors to detect whether someone drank alcohol, as well as cameras that can monitor a person's eye movements to tell if they're inhibited, Reuters reported .

Mothers Against Drunk Driving applauded the announcement and said it would push for the implementation of the technology as soon as possible.

"Everyone involved in this rulemaking process at NHTSA and everyone designing impaired driving prevention technologies at car companies need to understand that this is about saving human beings from the horror I've experienced and from the deaths and injuries of tens of thousands of Americans," said MADD national president Tess Rowland, who was hit head-on by a drunk driver in 2021.

"We must get this done. Lives are at stake," she added.

The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade group that represents automakers, said in a statement that it was reviewing NHTSA's announcement.

"Every single day automakers are working to make vehicles safer and smarter and to help address avoidable tragedies caused by behavior like drunk driving," the group said.

According to NHTSA, 13,384 people were killed in drunk driving crashes in 2021, making it one of the top causes of death on the road.

Deaths, injuries and property damage also amount to some $280 billion in lost wages, medical costs and more, the agency estimated.

The bipartisan infrastructure law passed in 2021 compels NHTSA to develop a federal standard requiring new passenger vehicles to include technology that can prevent drunk and impaired driving as long as it is "reasonable" and "practicable" and can reduce crashes and deaths.

clock This article was published more than  1 year ago

Drunken driving is a persistent problem. But there may be a technological solution.

Asking people not to drink and drive has only gotten us so far.

drunk driving prevention articles

Drunken driving control efforts have sputtered out in recent years with more than 11,000 preventable deaths now occurring annually. Over the past four decades, public health officials have largely focused on changing behaviors — asking people to not drink and drive. But now, there are new auto technologies that can prevent them from doing so.

As part of President Biden’s infrastructure law, Congress decided that some version of these devices needs to be installed in new American cars beginning in 2026. But first, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) must examine all available technologies and then select the most effective one. This development is an important opportunity to readdress a pressing public health crisis. Quite simply, the new innovations can surmount the cultural and libertarian barriers that have thwarted past efforts to end drunken driving fatalities.

For decades, drunken driving control was seen as a law enforcement issue . As cars multiplied on American roads in the early 20th century, cities and states began passing laws making it illegal to drink and drive. But they were not enforced aggressively, neither during Prohibition (1919-1933), when alcohol was less available, or after, when there was a backlash against anti-alcohol sentiments.

The tolerance for drunken driving at mid-century — an era in which manufacturers of alcoholic beverages routinely celebrated heavy drinking and even called beer “liquid bread” — was remarkable. Although many states had laws that let police arrest drivers with blood alcohol levels between 0.05 and 0.15 percent, the de facto level was 0.15 percent, almost twice as high as our current legal limit of 0.08 percent. That meant that severely impaired drivers often went unprosecuted, even when they injured or killed someone.

The situation worsened in the 1950s when suburbanization and the new interstate highway system led to even more drivers. While no one explicitly condoned drunken driving, having several drinks and getting behind the wheel became commonplace for men in their 20s and 30s, who were most likely to drive drunk.

Finally, in the 1960s, a physician and epidemiologist named William Haddon began to scrutinize the carnage caused by drunk drivers. His scientific approach included careful research demonstrating that high blood alcohol levels were associated with more and often fatal crashes. Haddon’s efforts culminated in a 1968 federal report estimating that roughly 25,000 Americans died annually from drunken driving.

For Haddon, this was a public health emergency. But with the cultural worship of drinking and driving, it was hard to get people to pay attention. It took the efforts of a journalist in Upstate New York and a grieving mother in California a decade later to rouse the public and legislators.

Together, these women told hundreds of stories of lives lost needlessly due to drunk drivers. The journalist, Doris Aiken, founded Remove Intoxicated Drivers in 1978 after learning about the deaths of two local teenagers killed by a driver with a 0.19 percent blood alcohol level who was still clutching a beer. RID broadly publicized the damage caused by drunken driving and pushed for stiffer penalties, especially locally.

Two years later, Candy Lightner’s 13-year-old daughter, Cari Lightner, was killed by a man with four prior driving while intoxicated arrests, the latest of which had been only two days earlier. Lightner founded Mothers Against Drunk Drivers — later Mothers Against Drunk Driving — in part because a police officer had told her: “Lady, you’ll be lucky if he sees any time in jail at all, much less prison. That’s the way the system works.”

MADD in particular would spearhead an enormous surge of interest in drunken driving. Lightner, both tenacious and telegenic, worked relentlessly to obtain stricter laws across the country. Drunken driving, The Washington Post announced on its front page in 1981, was “a national outrage.” Always front and center were “innocent victims,” pedestrians or other drivers either killed or maimed by drunk drivers. Within five years of its founding, MADD had 300 chapters and 600,000 volunteers.

Perhaps MADD’s greatest success occurred in 1984 when it got President Ronald Reagan to sign the Minimum Legal Drinking Age Law raising the legal drinking age to 21.

In the meantime, state legislatures stepped up, passing over 700 new laws by 1985. And by 2004, all 50 states had lowered the legal blood alcohol level to 0.08 percent. These efforts coincided with messaging campaigns by MADD, as well as by state and federal agencies. Propelled by catchphrases such as “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,” the concept of the designated driver — someone who stayed sober and drove intoxicated friends home safely — became a fixture of high school health classes and public service announcements.

Despite these accomplishments, barriers emerged. The beverage and restaurant industries, afraid that regulations would deter social drinking, opposed many initiatives, especially any further lowering of the legal blood alcohol level. Libertarian critics termed MADD and its allies “neoprohibitionists,” opposed not only to drunken driving, but to the consumption of any alcohol.

And other worthy public health campaigns, such as the prevention of texting and driving, overshadowed the persistent problem of drunken driving. As a result, drunken driving deaths, which had fallen to roughly 10,000 annually by 2009, stagnated there until 2020, when they rose to more than 11,000. Which is why there is now such a unique opportunity to reverse course and address a social problem that has been, to some degree, unsolvable.

The new technologies, broadly known as passive alcohol detection systems, work in one of two ways. Some of the devices detect illegal blood alcohol levels at or above 0.08 percent, preventing the car from starting, while others monitor the driver and/or the driver’s behavior to determine whether that person exhibits signs of impairment.

There will undoubtedly be criticisms: that these systems infringe on civil liberties, the technologies are unreliable and data collected by cars can be used against drivers. The congressional mandate to NHTSA should take all of these concerns into account.

Regardless of which technology is chosen, the potential impact of the new detection system requirement, which was passed thanks to the efforts of anti-drunken driving activists and has the support of the alcohol and insurance industries, is staggering. It will force drivers to act responsibly, potentially eliminating most drunken driving deaths and preventing countless injuries.

As the coronavirus pandemic has reminded us, there are limits to moral persuasion, even when lives are at stake. But this time, technology can help force people to do the right thing — since they will not always do it on their own.

drunk driving prevention articles

James F. Zender Ph.D.

How Drunk Driving Can Be Prevented

Commentary: initiatives to address impaired driving could reduce car crash risk..

Posted September 13, 2021 | Reviewed by Devon Frye

According to the CDC, one person in the U.S. dies every 50 minutes due to impaired driving, with the annual cost of alcohol -related crashes totaling more than $44 billion. Considering that almost 50 billion people worldwide are left injured or disabled by crashes—with an annual cost to the US alone of almost $1 trillion—increased safety and prevention initiatives are essential.

It’s heartbreaking for me to witness the devastation of car crash survivors and their families on a daily basis. It’s particularly disheartening to be aware of just how many crashes are alcohol-related and could have easily been prevented. My crash survivor patients always ponder what could have been done, if anything, to prevent their accident; usually, there are a multitude of "if only's." If only they hadn’t taken that road; if only they left 10 minutes later; if only they rode their bicycle to work that day; if only they had planned ahead for a designated driver.

Can Car Crashes Be Prevented?

There are two things we know for certain: Impaired driving kills and impaired driving is entirely preventable. In my book on car accident recovery, I share an interview with a first responder on drunk driving. Hearing him recount the numerous horrific injuries and deaths caused by drunk drivers is sobering, to say the least. It takes but a second—and for some people, just one glass of wine—to forget that alcohol impairs judgment. How many times have you heard someone say that they’re fine to drive after drinking or that they haven’t had that much to drink and can handle their alcohol?

Of particular concern are teen drivers that frequently engage in risk-taking behaviors such as driving under the influence of alcohol. A requirement by insurance companies for vehicles to have in-car breathalyzers that either will not operate if the state alcohol limit is exceeded or a system that will alert local police to the impaired driver’s location could go a long way towards crash prevention. Many would argue this feels too much like state control over individual choice and freedom. However, in my view, it stands to reason, as driving under the influence is a criminal offense.

Recently, I was pleased to hear about a federal infrastructure bill in the works that would require auto manufacturers to install technology to prevent drunk driving. According to an article in Time , the technology may involve passive monitoring of a driver’s breath, eye scans to check for focus, or infrared touch tests on ignition buttons.

As part of the spending plan for the bill, further accident prevention initiatives will include rear guards required for semi-trucks, an in-car reminder to check for children in the back seat to prevent leaving them in a hot car once the engine stops, and a study using crash-test dummies to accurately measure accident impacts on young and elderly people, as well as women. Research shows that children and women are particularly vulnerable to the effects of traumatic brain injuries and much more needs to be done to protect these populations from being injured in a crash.

The passing of the federal bill will rely heavily on feedback from the U.S. Department of Transportation on costs and effectiveness. It’s worthwhile to note that along with potentially saving more lives, ride-share, tech, and insurance companies all stand to profit.

It's all too easy for us to forget that when we get behind the wheel of a car, we are accepting the risk of bodily harm to ourselves and to others. We have sadly become desensitized to the endemic of car crashes as cars are the most widely used mode of transportation. Personally, I hope that the passage and implementation of a new federal bill would encourage us to focus more on safe driving practices and lead to increased communication and collaboration with lawmakers, auto manufacturers, insurance companies, and governments. A cohesive, informed, combined approach is crucial for us to reduce all crash-related injuries and deaths. As we share the roadways, so must we also share in the responsibility for safety and crash prevention.

Suggested Reading & Resources

CDC. “Impaired Driving.” CDC. https://www.cdc.gov/transportationsafety/impaired_driving/index.html

James F. Zender, PhD (2020). Recovering from Your Car Accident. The Complete Guide to Reclaiming Your Life. New York: Rowman & Littlefield.

MADD. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). US. https://www.charities.org/charities/mothers-against-drunk-driving-madd

Philip Elliott. “Buried in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill: In-Car Breathalyzers.” Time, August 3, 2021. https://time.com/6086981/bipartisan-infrastructure-bill-breathalyzers/

Roadpeace-The National Charity for Road Crash Victims. UK. https://www.roadpeace.org/

James F. Zender Ph.D.

James F. Zender, Ph.D., is a clinical and forensic psychologist who specializes in auto accident trauma treatment and care.

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Drunken-Driving Warning Systems Would Be Required for New Cars Under U.S. Bill

Congress attached the mandate to the $1 trillion infrastructure package that President Biden is expected to sign soon. It would take effect as early as 2026.

drunk driving prevention articles

By Neil Vigdor

Intelligent braking systems can predict a collision, while blind spot sensors warn drivers not to change lanes.

But what if standard car safety systems could detect if a driver had consumed too much alcohol?

As soon as 2026, automakers would be required to equip cars with technology geared toward preventing drunken or impaired driving under a key provision of the trillion-dollar infrastructure package that awaits President Biden’s signature.

The type of technology that would be used is far from settled, with Congress stopping short of endorsing ignition lock devices like those that are often required by the courts for drunken-driving offenders and involve a breath test.

But organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving say that the safety mandate would save thousands of lives. The group pointed out that more than 9,000 people are killed each year in the United States in drunken-driving accidents, citing a 2020 study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety .

Alex Otte, the president of MADD, said in a recent statement that the measure would “virtually eliminate the No. 1 killer on America’s roads.”

“We need technology to stop the nightmare on our roads,” Ms. Otte said. “Existing technologies and those in development will stop the hazardous driving behavior of people who refuse to make the right choice themselves.”

Under the mandate, the safety equipment must “passively monitor the performance of a driver of a motor vehicle to accurately identify whether that driver may be impaired” and “prevent or limit motor vehicle operation if an impairment is detected.”

It was not immediately clear what lawmakers considered to be passive monitoring.

Congress gave the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration three years to issue a final rule for the safety devices, which the bill said would give automakers adequate time to comply with the measure.

The agency did not immediately comment on Wednesday.

The mandate’s proponents noted that 68 percent of fatal drunken-driving accidents in 2019 involved drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.15 percent or higher. The legal limit is 0.08 percent.

John Bozzella, the president and chief executive of the Alliance for Automotive Innovation, said in a statement this week that the industry group appreciated that lawmakers gave safety regulators flexibility to review different technology options.

“The auto industry has long been committed to supporting public and private efforts to address this tragic threat to road safety, which contributes to more than 10,000 lives lost each year,” Mr. Bozzella said. “A number of provisions in this legislation take on this important challenge, from support for enforcement to the advancement of potentially life-saving technologies.”

In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in January, the alliance’s vice president for safety policy, Scott Schmidt, said that it was critical that drunken-driving deterrent systems use precise data about a driver’s blood-alcohol concentration.

Alternative driving monitoring systems, including those relying on cameras, could produce false positives, he said.

Mr. Schmidt recalled that in the 1970s federal regulators adopted a rule that cars couldn’t start unless drivers fastened their seatbelts, but that it was rescinded because of its unpopularity.

“Given the nature of alcohol impairment, driver warnings and mild interventions will likely be ineffective,” Mr. Schmidt said. “As a result, intrusive interventions would be required. If such interventions are needed, system accuracy must be very high in order to meet consumer acceptance expectations and avoid consumer backlash.”

Neil Vigdor is a breaking news reporter. He previously covered Connecticut politics for The Hartford Courant. More about Neil Vigdor

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Perspective

Perspectives are commissioned from an expert and discuss the clinical practice or public health implications of a published study. The original publication must be freely available online.

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Clinical Action against Drunk Driving

* E-mail: [email protected]

Affiliations Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Evaluative Clinical Sciences Program, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Division of General Internal Medicine, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Center for Leading Injury Prevention Practice Education & Research, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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Affiliations Department of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Institute for Health Policy Management and Evaluation, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, Department of Medicine, Mount Sinai Hospital and University Health Network, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

  • Donald A. Redelmeier, 
  • Allan S. Detsky

PLOS

Published: February 14, 2017

  • https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002231
  • Reader Comments

Fig 1

Citation: Redelmeier DA, Detsky AS (2017) Clinical Action against Drunk Driving. PLoS Med 14(2): e1002231. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002231

Copyright: © 2017 Redelmeier, Detsky. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License , which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

Funding: This project was supported by a Canada Research Chair in Medical Decision Sciences, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the BrightFocus Foundation. No funding bodies had any role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.

Competing interests: The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

Abbreviations: IRTAD, International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group; MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving; NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; OECD, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development

Provenance: Commissioned; not externally-peer reviewed

In 2014, over 100,000 people in the United States were hospitalized because of alcohol-related traffic crashes, and 9,967 died (exceeding the 6,721 US deaths from HIV in the same year) [ 1 , 2 ]. On 17 March 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) plans to promote a safety campaign against drunk driving. Past estimates suggest that law enforcement against drunk driving reduces traffic fatalities by 20% and that high-probability detection is more effective than high-severity punishment [ 3 , 4 ]. Yet, 12 states in the US, including the large states of Texas and Minnesota, prohibit random sobriety checkpoints, and the remaining have uneven efforts against drunk driving [ 5 ]. This Perspective identifies some groups with a vested interest in preventing drunk driving, describes reasons for the relative inaction, and proposes more action by physicians.

Traditionally, physicians and allied health care providers have deferred to others about how to address the health risks of drunk driving. One explanation is that drunk driving is a behavioral choice, and behavioral change is difficult to effect in a time-limited clinical encounter [ 6 ]. Moreover, preventive care may provide less evident benefit to the patient than prescribing an acid blocker, for example, to treat symptomatic alcohol-induced gastritis. While a pregnant woman who drinks alcohol is likely to be warned by her obstetrician or midwife on the risks to fetal development, most patients in our experience who are prone to drunk driving are easily missed because physicians rarely ask about drunk driving, despite often asking about alcohol. As a consequence, standard care may fail to identify this prevalent, modifiable, and serious health risk.

Vehicle manufacturers are the most powerful commercial group that can promote traffic safety. Over time, this industry has carefully developed and marketed technologies to protect drivers, such as seat belts, airbags, antilock brakes, and safety glass. Currently, the main technology to prevent drunk driving is an ignition interlock that forces drivers to have a breath test before engine engagement. This device, now imposed only on the vehicles of convicted drunk drivers, is unlikely to be adopted broadly any time soon unless manufacturers want to boast that they make the safest cars for those prone to drunk driving. The net result is that vehicle regulators in the US are unable to rely on manufacturer innovations or economic forces to prevent drunk driving.

Other large groups have even less incentive to promote sobriety while driving. Alcohol manufacturers promote “responsible drinking,” which is a vacuous tautology because adverse events can be deemed “irresponsible” by rhetorical hindsight. Celebrities in the entertainment industry are occasionally charged with drunk driving yet rarely express enduring regret. Lawyers gain little financial benefit from deterring drunk drivers, whereas some profit substantially by defending those who have deep pockets and are charged with drunk driving. Individual police officers themselves sometimes consider traffic enforcement as low-prestige work with little career satisfaction [ 7 ]. Driving enthusiasts argue that enforcement mostly inconveniences safe drivers to catch a few deviants. Those caught driving drunk are rarely grateful for the penalties.

Sometimes medical science can inspire behavior change, and drunk driving could seem amenable to research because of the large number of incidents. A rigorous clinical trial, however, cannot be conducted unless broad regions are willing to implement interventions in a thorough manner. An epidemiological analysis contrasting different states would also be easily misinterpreted because of dissimilarities across regions and diversity within regions (for example, the risk of dying in an alcohol-related traffic crash is three times higher in South Carolina than in New Jersey even though both states allow random sobriety checkpoints) [ 1 ]. Because individuals are not randomly assigned to driving locations, furthermore, the confounders are almost boundless [ 8 ]. These research limitations mean that scientific evidence is unlikely to cause people to stop drunk driving [ 9 ].

Activism and Politics

The most prominent body advocating change has been Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), a citizen group with deeply motivated members [ 10 ]. The mission of MADD is to “stop drunk driving, support the victims of this violent crime, and prevent underage drinking.” MADD has successfully pushed for drunk-driving laws, increased public awareness, designated-driver initiatives, alcohol ignition interlock programs, and victim impact panels. Yet, MADD is mostly a volunteer organization, with fewer than 500 employees. MADD has also been criticized for having administrative costs and for shifting towards broader prohibitions against alcohol consumption [ 11 ]. Ultimately, MADD has no power to enforce drunk-driving laws.

Politicians in the US seldom discuss traffic safety with the same zeal that they direct at debates on economic growth, domestic terrorism, public scandals, gun deaths, climate change, and other public-policy priorities. Indeed, making a political issue of drunk driving can carry particular risks because the historical failure of prohibition decades ago (1920 to 1933) means that a well-intentioned politician is easily ridiculed or mischaracterized as being antialcohol [ 11 ]. A US politician who seeks re-election will rarely promise action against drunk driving. The US political process, therefore, exchanges safety for freedom and tolerates a remarkably high rate of alcohol-related traffic fatalities relative to other countries ( Fig 1 ).

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Histogram of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the US and other countries. The vertical axis shows ten countries sequenced by death rates. The horizontal axis shows alcohol-related traffic deaths as fatalities per million population annually. Data are from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Road Safety Annual Report 2015 authored by the International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group (IRTAD) and available at the following website: http://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/transport/road-safety-annual-report-2015_irtad-2015-en . The death rates were calculated from Table 1.3 of the report and individual country alcohol profiles. The results show high rates of alcohol-related traffic fatalities in the US relative to other countries.

https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002231.g001

Medical Initiatives

Health care providers are perhaps the one remaining large powerful group with a profound commitment to health. Physicians and allied life-saving professionals sometimes advocate to reduce cigarette smoking, drug abuse, domestic violence, or other societal epidemics. Drunk driving causes major mortality and morbidity that is utterly preventable, unlike many advanced diseases. The losses are also tragic because offenders usually have no malicious intent yet many lives are irrevocably altered (including their own). Because the market forces for commercial industries run in a different direction, physicians could advocate more for what works against drunk driving ( Box 1 ) [ 12 ]. Civic advocacy, however, rarely leads to immediate gratification and sometimes deteriorates into dissenting backlash [ 13 ].

Box 1. Physician Strategies to Prevent Drunk Driving

  • Alcohol screening and brief interventions for patients with alcohol problems
  • Physician warnings for patients who sometimes drink and drive
  • Treatment of patients diagnosed with alcohol dependence
  • Counseling of patients not to ride with drunk drivers
  • Supporting enforcement of laws against drunk driving
  • Promoting sobriety checkpoints in local communities
  • Lending voice to mass media campaigns against drunk driving
  • Joining multicomponent interventions in coalitions of community group members

Patients do not want to become traffic statistics, tend to listen to their physicians, and take advice seriously. When asked about alcohol consumption, for example, patients often respond truthfully inside a private medical relationship. A simple extension, therefore, might be for physicians to also ask patients about past episodes of drinking and driving. Patients identified, in turn, could be recommended a taxi service, ride-sharing option (e.g., Uber and Lyft), or a designated-driver substitute. The intent is to suggest safer alternatives so patients who drink do not need to drive [ 14 ]. The intent is not to preach sobriety or to betray patient trust. Ideally, these harm-reduction strategies should be planned in advance because later inebriation will predictably impair judgment.

In Canada, recent financial incentives have been effective at motivating physicians’ warnings for medically unfit drivers and reducing the risk of a traffic crash for patients diagnosed with alcoholism [ 15 ]. A direct incentive for physicians’ warnings against drunk driving could be considered to address the problem in the US (the fee in Canada is C$36.25). Physicians need to first realize, of course, that an average drunk driver has a 5%–15% lifetime risk of dying in a traffic crash, physician warnings lead to a one-third relative reduction in the subsequent risk of a serious traffic crash, and most adults who drink and drive visit a physician in the year before dying [ 16 ]. The epidemic of drunk driving needs to be addressed in the US, and 17 March 2017 is a time for physicians to think more about clinical action against drunk driving.

Acknowledgments

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.

  • 1. Department of Transportation (US), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts 2014 data: alcohol-impaired driving. Washington, DC: NHTSA; 2015. http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812231.pdf
  • 2. Department of Health and Human Services (US). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Deaths: Final Data for 2014: Table 10. Washington, DC: CDC; 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr65/nvsr65_04.pdf
  • View Article
  • Google Scholar
  • PubMed/NCBI
  • 10. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Mission Statement. Irving, Texas: MADD National Office; 2016. http://www.madd.org/about-us/
  • 11. Lerner BH. One for the road: Drunk driving since 1900. 1 st ed. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press; 2011.
  • 12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). What works: Strategies to reduce or prevent drunk driving. Atlanta:US Department of Health & Human Services; 2016. http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/impaired_driving/strategies.html

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Aarian Marshall

US Regulators Want Cars to Include Drunk-Driver Detection Technology

Cars on the highway at night

The US government took the first step Tuesday toward requiring new cars to have technology that checks whether the driver is drunk.

At an event in Washington, DC, officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the nation’s top road safety regulator, said the technology could help prevent thousands of annual road deaths involving alcohol. Almost 13,400 people died in US alcohol-related crashes in 2021 alone, NHTSA figures say.

The agency is still exploring how best to precisely detect and measure impairment in drivers and would seek multiple rounds of public input before creating any regulations to force automakers to include the feature. Industry and academic research has shown that it’s possible to detect evidence of impairment using air sensors in a vehicle to recognize alcohol in a person’s breath, touch sensors that look for alcohol in the blood, or by a tracking driver’s gaze or steering.

The NHTSA says that any technology that becomes standard would have to be “passive,” meaning it would have to work without any specific action from a driver such as blowing into a breathalyzer tube.

“Today’s announcement sets the groundwork for impaired driving rulemaking that will seek the most mature and effective technology,” Polly Trottenberg, the deputy secretary of the US Department of Transportation, said at the event Tuesday. Translation: It'll be a while until technology to detect drunkenness becomes a required standard. Don’t expect your next car to come with an anti-drunk-driving feature.

Congress directed the NHTSA to create regulations requiring “advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technology” in vehicles in 2021’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law . But the process of creating new vehicle regulations can take months and even years, as regulators collect input from industry, researchers, and the public.

In a document accompanying Tuesday's announcement, regulators laid out several open questions around anti-drunk-driving technology that made clear the NHTSA’s plans are at an early stage: What’s the best way to determine whether someone is drunk or drowsy or distracted, and should the car treat those impairments differently? What should a car do if it determines its driver is drunk? And—critically—is there a way to guarantee that systems will never lock out people who aren’t drunk?

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Even if reasonable answers can be found for those questions, the technology would also have to survive the court of public opinion. “The public will reject this if the false positives are too high,” says James C. Fell, a principal research scientist who studies impaired driving at the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago, an independent research organization. “You don’t want to stop people from driving who are not impaired.”

Regulators seemed to acknowledge that this tech could prove unpopular. “Misbelief that there exists a right to drive while drunk have resulted in some individuals believing that this rulemaking is pursuing a course of action that might unduly infringe upon their rights,” the agency wrote.

Research into anti-drunk-driving technology has gone on for decades, and four main technologies stand out. Sensors embedded in steering wheels or dashboards can detect levels of alcohol and carbon dioxide in a driver’s breath. Touch-based sensors in a steering wheel or other surface can use infrared lights to determine the blood alcohol content in capillaries just below the skin’s surface.

And driver-monitoring systems , which are already common in new cars with advanced driving-assistance technologies, could use eye or head tracking to determine whether a person is likely impaired. Similarly, many vehicles can already detect lane departures and erratic steering, potentially providing extra signals of possible inebriation.

Federal regulators said that while they believed the direction from Congress in the Infrastructure Bill intended for the NHTSA to require anti-drugged-driving technology too, the current process will focus only on alcohol.

Adding anti-drunk-driving technology to vehicles will cost automakers and could push up vehicle prices. Plus, drivers might blame their cars if the tech goes wrong—perhaps leading a frustrated public to turn against the technology altogether. The Alliance for Automotive Innovation, a trade organization that represents most global automakers, says it is reviewing the NHTSA’s initial proposals. “Every single day automakers are working to make vehicles safer and smarter and to help address avoidable tragedies caused by behavior like drunk driving,” said Brian Weiss, the group’s spokesperson, in a statement.

Whatever method—or combination of methods—the government chooses, anti-drunk-driving technology that works should reduce the toll of traffic crashes, says Fell. Programs that try to change driver attitudes and behaviors such as education campaigns or courses aren’t always very effective, he says. “If you can use technology, that will go a long way to preventing impaired driving—and especially if these systems are as good as I think they are.”

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Page title Socializing Safely This Season: National Impaired Driving Prevention Month

December. As individuals, we look forward to getting together with friends and family to celebrate the holidays. It’s also a time when prevention can play an especially important role. December is a deadly month for impaired driving.

The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration (NHTSA) reported that in 2019 during the week between Christmas and New Year's Day, 210 lives were lost due to alcohol-impaired driving crashes. That’s 210 people in one week who didn’t make it home because either they or someone with whom they came in contact chose to use alcohol and then get behind the wheel. That same year, more than 10,000 people died from drunk driving crashes alone.

These deaths were preventable. That’s why for more than 40 years, preventionists across the country have observed National Impaired Driving Prevention Month in December to raise awareness that impaired driving can be deadly and to put strategies in place for all of us to make it home safely.

As everyone takes precautions to be able to safely return to in-person events, more and more celebrations are being added to the calendar. It could be an intimate dinner at a friend’s house, perhaps a happy hour to celebrate a return to the office, or a gathering of high school friends home from college. In each instance, alcohol and other substances may not be necessarily at the center of the fun but are a common denominator.

Alcohol-impaired driving crashes—which range from being under the influence of substances to distracted driving to speeding—increase throughout December as more people travel. SAMHSA’s 2020 National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed over 26 million people ages 16 or older drove under the influence of alcohol or illicit drugs during the past year. Approximately 17 percent of these people were 20 to 25 years old.

Motor vehicle crashes are a leading cause of death and nonfatal injury among U.S. adolescents, resulting in approximately 2,500 deaths and 300,000 nonfatal injuries each year , according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. While NHTSA’s “Buzzed Driving Is Drunk Driving” campaign addresses driving under the influence of just alcohol, it’s important to note that many substances can impair driving , including marijuana, opioids, methamphetamines, or even prescribed or over-the-counter medications.

The good news is that prevention works. As we come together this holiday season, educate yourself and others on the risks of driving while impaired and take steps to stay safe. We can start with the science. There are no shortcuts to “sobering up” and preparing to drive; a person’s coordination and reaction time are slowed long before they actually show signs of intoxication. Coffee is not a cure-all. And even slowing or stopping drinking an hour or more before planning to drive does not mean the alcohol has “worn off.”

We can have conversations ahead of time so there aren’t those awkward “in the moment” exchanges. Communicate honestly with your children, friends, family members, and colleagues about expectations of behavior and safe choices when attending holiday events, whether they take place in someone’s home (where some can perceive the rules are a bit more flexible) or at a public venue. In addition, encourage ride-sharing services for gatherings where alcohol will be served and check-in with guests if you’re hosting to see if they need a ride. With planning , you can eliminate a spontaneous decision to drive.

Parents and caregivers may face even more pressure during the holidays, as many young people are home from school on break and eager to gather with their peers in a social setting. Help your young people socialize safely by:

  • Discussing the dangers of underage alcohol and substance use—especially when combined with driving—and set expectations for your child’s behavior. SAMHSA’s “Talk. They Hear You.” campaign, including its new mobile app , helps parents and caregivers start these conversations.
  • Sharing resources designed for youth that communicate the facts and consequences, like Underage Drinking: Myths vs. Facts and the Tips for Teens series.
  • Setting curfews if youth go to a party and offering to drive them or pick them up. Even if your teen abstains from alcohol, he or she may have a hard time saying “no thanks” to a peer driver who is drinking.
  • Coordinating with their friends’ parents about driving plans, as well as maintaining substance-free environments at parties. (Most states have social host laws that prohibit hosts from serving alcohol to minors. Some parents may think it’s a safe option if it’s happening “under their roof”—but it’s still breaking the law and dangerous.)

This holiday season, each of us has the power to prevent a tragedy and ensure that those we know and care about get to and from their celebrations. Speaking up about what is OK and what is not OK is a good first step—not just in relation to alcohol use but also other substances that can compromise our ability to make it home safely.

At the same time, we should be mindful that many in our communities could be experiencing the holiday blues. If you or someone you love needs mental health support and services, I encourage you to call SAMHSA’s National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP . If he or she is in crisis, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline offers free and confidential support: 1-800-273-TALK .

If we practice prevention to keep ourselves and our communities safe, the holidays can be full of the joy we expect them to be.

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We know what it takes to end drunk driving, fight drugged driving and educate the next generation of drivers. But we still need help to reach the day that no one experiences a broken heart due to impaired driving.

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Answering the call for help is at the heart of Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s mission. Whether you have questions about services, or need support after a crash, MADD cares about you and we want to help. If you or someone you know has experienced injury or was killed or experienced another kind of impact, you are not alone, MADD is here for you.

Get Involved

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Behind every drunk and drugged driving statistic is a person whose life was full of family and friends, love and life, joy and laughter. Mothers Against Drunk Driving has several ways you can help create a future of No More Victims ® .

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At Mothers Against Drunk Driving, we’re focused on one goal: ending impaired driving for good. Since our founding, we've served as a lifeline for thousands of victims and survivors, and drunk driving fatalities have been cut in half — but we refuse to stop there. Together, we can end this 100% preventable crime.

Solving the Problem

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  • August 6,  2021
  • Drugged Driving , Drunk Driving , General

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10 Things to Know About the Impaired Driving Prevention Technology Provision in the Infrastructure Law

A key provision in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act passed by both the House and Senate and signed into law by President Joe Biden on November 15, 2021 requires a new national safety standard for state-of-the-art smart technology in all new cars that would ultimately eliminate impaired driving.

Traffic fatalities are dramatically higher than they were a decade ago. As U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg has stated, we are facing “a national crisis of fatalities and serious injuries.” Every month we wait to get this technology on all new cars means more than 1,000 preventable deaths and 25,000 preventable injuries caused by drunk driving. Additionally, drunk driving is costing the U.S. economy $58 billion a year.

Passage of this legislation is the most significant, lifesaving public policy victory in MADD’s 43-year history. “This marks the beginning of the end of drunk driving,” MADD National President Alex Otte said in a November 2021 statement.

Here are 10 things to know about the impaired driving prevention tech provision:

1. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) must conduct a rulemaking process. Automakers would be given two to three years to implement the new standard.

The technology-neutral legislation gives NHTSA three years to evaluate technologies and set the standard for impaired driving prevention technology on all new vehicles. New cars equipped with the NHTSA-directed technology could start rolling off the assembly line in 2026-2027.

2. Advanced passive technology systems to prevent drunk driving already exist or are in development.

Advanced passive technology systems to prevent drunk driving already exist or are in development. MADD documented in a Request for Information (RFI) response to NHTSA in May 2021 that 241 advanced drunk and impaired driving prevention technologies exist. Many of them could be deployed today.

  • Driving assistance systems like lane departure warning and collision assist;
  • Driver monitoring systems that identify dangerous driver performance;
  • Passive alcohol detection systems that use sensors to determine whether a driver is impaired.

Driving assistance and driver monitoring systems could be beneficial not only to prevent impaired driving, but to detect other dangerous behaviors that lead to crashes such as drowsy driving, distracted driving, and even medical emergencies.

3. Passive alcohol detection systems are not simple breathalyzers or ignition interlock devices.

This smart technology has NO relation to police breathalyzers or to ignition interlock devices that require a motorist to actively blow into a device. Advanced alcohol detection systems use sensors integrated into a car that passively determine if the person behind the wheel is impaired.

4. Research supports technological solutions to end impaired driving.

More than 10,100 lives will be saved annually when all new cars have drunk driving prevention technology as standard equipment, according to the I nsurance Institute for Highway Safety .

5. The technology must be standard equipment in all new cars.

The auto industry has the resources and expertise to make safety advancements like impaired driving prevention a reality, much the same way it has used its R&D prowess for many safety innovations.

Some examples:

drunk driving prevention articles

Magna is working on a system that combines its driver monitoring system with a sensor that passively detects alcohol on the driver’s breath. “The combined system supports a robust determination of a driver’s fitness to perform the driving task, including an assessment of their breath alcohol concentration, with the goal of reversing impaired driving trends,” the website says.

The company demonstrated its progress at an auto technology showcase in September 2023 in Washington, D.C.

Hyundai Mobis

According to an announcement in 2022, the Hyundai Mobis cabin monitoring system includes passive alcohol detection technology. “It will also be possible to detect if the driver is intoxicated and block the driver from driving,” Hyundai Mobis announced in June. “It uses optical sensor technology to detect the alcohol content in the driver’s breath to determine the blood alcohol level. This technology is much more accurate and convenient than electrochemical sensors that require mouth-to-mouth blowing.”

  • “Hyundai Mobis M.VICS And Smart Cabin Secures Safe And Sound Autonomous Driving,” Hyundai. July 21, 2022. https://www.hyundaimotorgroup.com/story/CONT0000000000043965
  • “Drunk or drowsy? This cabin controller from Hyundai wouldn’t let you drive,” Tech Radar. June 24, 2022. https://www.techradar.com/news/drunk-or-drowsythis-cabin-controller-from-hyundai-wouldnt-let-you-drive

On September 8, 2021, Euro NCAP tweeted the following “The all-new but conventionally powered Subaru Outback achieves an outstanding score of 95% for Safety Assist!The car is equipped with a system which detects signs of fatigue or impairment directly from the driver’s eye movements and combines this with steering behaviour.”

  • https://twitter.com/EuroNCAP/status/1435540141649575936

Volvo has been adding in-car sensors and cameras to its vehicles, aimed at enhancing safety by monitoring drivers for signs of intoxication and distraction, then intervening to prevent crashes. It made the following announcements in March 2019.

  • Volvo Video: https://www.media.volvocars.com/global/en-gb/media/videos/250162/in-car-cameras-and-intervention-against-intoxication-distraction-animation1
  • Volvo Press Release: https://www.media.volvocars.com/global/en-gb/media/pressreleases/250015/volvo-cars-to-deploy-in-car-cameras-and-intervention-against-intoxication-distraction

Nissan unveiled a new concept car in 2007 with multiple preventive features against drunk and impaired driving. It used alcohol odor sensors, facial monitoring and vehicle operational behavior to detect driver impairment.

  • https://www.nissan-global.com/EN/TECHNOLOGY/OVERVIEW/dpcc.html

Toyota announced a drunk driving prevention system in 2007 with hopes of having it in cars by the end of 2009. The technology was described as a fail-safe system using sensors to detect the bodily presence of alcohol or impaired behavior.

  • https://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna16449687
  • https://www.ctvnews.ca/toyota-developing-cars-that-detect-drunk-driving-1.221761

6. MADD is fully committed to a vehicle technology standard that protects driver privacy.

MADD would not support a final standard that leaves consumers vulnerable to privacy invasions or that uses their data for commercial or malicious purposes. Impaired driving prevention technology should only use data or personally identifiable information to recognize driver impairment.

7. The timeline is reasonable and the cost to auto manufacturers is minimal.

MADD is confident the timeline can be met with existing technologies and those currently being developed. For example, one technology entity that is pursuing DUI prevention technology, The Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) , estimates it will cost auto manufacturers $200 per vehicle to add their technology and states that their current timeline for use in consumer vehicles is by 2024 for the breath system and 2025 for the touch system. This timetable for installation in cars is well within the statutory and regulatory timeline specified in the pending congressional legislation.

8. MADD is neutral on the technology options.

As MADD documented in a Request for Information (RFI) response to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in May 2021, there are many potential technologies to prevent impaired driving. As soon as any one solution is proven effective, it must be introduced and implemented immediately as standard equipment in all new cars. If additional impaired driving prevention technologies are proven effective, they should be implemented subsequently.

9. MADD spearheaded this bipartisan effort.

The House bill was championed by Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-MI), David McKinley (RWV) and Kathleen Rice (D-NY). The Senate bill is led by Senators Ben Ray Luján (DNM), Rick Scott (R-FL), Gary Peters (D-MI), and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

10. American consumers strongly supported the Congressional technology mandate.

According to a nationwide poll conducted by Ipsos for MADD, 9 out of 10 Americans support technology that is integrated into a car’s electronics to prevent drunk driving. 91% of respondents said the technology is a good or very good idea. Support for the technology spans gender, age, income and regional differences. The most common factor that influences support for impaired driving prevention technology in all new cars is cost, according to the poll commissioned by MADD. 78% of respondents said they are much more or somewhat more likely to support the technology if it comes at no extra cost to consumers.

About Mothers Against Drunk Driving

Founded in 1980 by a mother whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver, Mothers Against Drunk Driving® (MADD) is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to end drunk driving, help fight drugged driving, support the victims of these violent crimes and prevent underage drinking. MADD has helped to save more than 400,000 lives, reduce drunk driving deaths by more than 50% and promote designating a non-drinking driver. MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving® calls for law enforcement support, ignition interlocks for all offenders and advanced vehicle technology. MADD has provided supportive services to nearly one million drunk and drugged driving victims and survivors at no charge through local victim advocates and the 24-Hour Victim Help Line 1-877-MADD-HELP. Visit http://www.madd.org or call 1-877-ASK-MADD.

About The Survey

The poll was conducted October 28-30, 2022, by Ipsos using its KnowledgePanel®. This poll is based on a nationally representative probability sample of 1,030 general population adults age 18 or older, with a margin of sampling error of +/- 3.1 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Contact: Becky Iannotta, 202.600.2032, [email protected]

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NHTSA Launches Put the Phone Away or Pay Campaign; Releases 2023 Fatality Early Estimates

Projections show a seventh consecutive quarter of decline in fatalities

April 1, 2024 | Washington, DC

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration kicked off its campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of distracted driving. The newly rebranded Put the Phone Away or Pay campaign reminds drivers of the deadly dangers and the legal consequences – including fines – of distracted driving. Together with Chief Robert McCullough of the Baltimore County, Maryland, Police Department, Alan Morales of Students Against Destructive Decisions, and Joel Feldman of EndDD.org, NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman previewed the new campaign assets at today’s campaign kickoff event.

The campaign launches as NHTSA released new 2022 distraction data and preliminary traffic fatality data for 2023 . These latest numbers underscore the toll of being distracted behind the wheel. In 2022, 3,308 people were killed and an estimated additional 289,310 people were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers.

“Distracted driving is extremely dangerous,” NHTSA Deputy Administrator Sophie Shulman said. “Distraction comes in many forms, but it is also preventable. Our rebranded campaign reminds everyone to Put the Phone Away or Pay, because distracted driving can cost you in fines – or even cost your life or the life of someone else on the road.”

People who are walking, cycling or otherwise outside a vehicle are especially vulnerable to being in danger from distracted drivers. In 2022, 621 vulnerable road users were killed in distraction-affected traffic crashes. Despite overall declines, vulnerable road user fatality rates are increasing, and distracted driving is a contributing factor to the increase in fatalities. NHTSA’s final 2022 Fatality Analysis Reporting System traffic crash data and analysis are available online.

NHTSA’s high-visibility enforcement of state distracted driving laws takes place April 4-8 and targets drivers aged 18 to 34 who, according to NHTSA data , are more likely to die in distraction-affected crashes than any other age group. The Put the Phone Away or Pay campaign is supported by a $5 million national media buy in English and Spanish on television, radio, and digital platforms. Campaign ads run from April 1-8.

NHTSA also released its latest projections for traffic fatalities in 2023 , estimating more miles driven and lower fatality rates compared to 2022. The agency estimates that 40,990 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2023, a decrease of about 3.6% as compared to 42,514 fatalities reported to have occurred in 2022. The fourth quarter of 2023 represents the seventh consecutive quarterly decline in fatalities beginning with the second quarter of 2022. The estimated fatality rate for 2023 decreased to 1.26 deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, down from the reported rate of 1.33 per 100 million VMT in 2022. Estimates also show that VMT in 2023 increased by about 67.5 billion miles, a 2.1% increase over 2022.

Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Transportation published its 2024 Progress Update , a departmental update two years after the release of the original NRSS on January 27, 2022. The Department-wide adoption of the safe system approach remains the foundation of the NRSS’ implementation and is pivotal to addressing the fatality crisis on our roads. The progress report provides an update on the Department’s efforts to address serious and fatal injuries on our roadways and details the Department’s accomplishments related to addressing the NRSS actions in 2023. The most significant actions in 2023 include:

  • Awarded $1.7 billion in funding to improve roadway safety at the local, regional, and tribal levels through the Safe Streets and Roads for All discretionary grant program. Over 1,000 communities received funding, representing close to 70% of all Americans.  
  • Accelerated the deployment of new vehicle safety technologies through rulemakings for automatic emergency braking, including for pedestrians, on all new passenger vehicles, as well as heavy vehicles such as commercial trucks. 
  • Initiated an advance notice of proposed rulemaking for impaired-driving prevention technology standards to inform requirements that will deter behaviors such as alcohol-impaired driving.   
  • Updated key road safety regulations such as the new edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, and revised guidance to encourage states using federal-aid funds to use repaving and rehabilitation projects to improve safety for all road users.  
  • Expanded the use and support of the National Emergency Medical Services Information System by accepting data from all 50 states, two territories and the District of Columbia. 
  • More than 160 organizations have joined as Allies in Action of the NRSS, including 36 state transportation agencies and safety offices.

The progress report also identifies four new commitments to action under the NRSS in calendar year 2024 and beyond, including two actions focused on directly addressing distracted driving:

  • Revise distracted driving prevention campaign material to reflect the evolution of distracted dangers associated with handheld devices and use updated content during high-visibility enforcement activities.
  • Develop a distraction research roadmap, informed by diverse expertise and public comment, that could support future updates such as Visual-Manual Driver Distraction Guidelines for In-Vehicle Electronic Devices.  

As US traffic fatalities fall, distracted drivers told to 'put the phone away or pay'

drunk driving prevention articles

An estimated 40,990 people died in traffic crashes last year, according to data released Monday by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Though the number of miles driven in 2023 increased to 67.5 billion, the number of traffic fatalities decreased by 3.6%, according to Sophie Shulman, deputy administrator for the NHTSA. Still, Shulman said the country "bears a significant burden from distracted driving crashes, which cost us collectively $98 billion in 2019 alone."

"We want everyone to know: put the phone away or pay," she said. "Pay can mean a ticket or points on your license and it can also mean pay the ultimate price - deadly crash that takes your life or the life of someone else on the road."

More than 3,300 people died and nearly 290,000 were injured in crashes involving distracted drivers in 2022, about 20% of those killed were outside the vehicles, Shulman said. She said that's likely an undercount because people may not want to admit to using their phones prior to a crash, and it can be difficult for law enforcement to determine if they were doing so.

Almost every state prohibits texting while driving and more than half have banned hand-held cellphone use, Shulman said. A 2021 study conducted by researchers in Ohio, North Carolina and Canada and published in the journal Epidemiology found that more comprehensive bans on hand-held cellphone use were associated with fewer driver fatalities, unlike bans that only prohibit texting or calling while driving. States with more comprehensive bans may prohibit holding or using a cellphone altogether, while others list specific tasks including using social media, internet browsing and playing games.

Robert McCullough, chief of the Baltimore County Police Department, said his department is working to address distracted driving through "focused enforcement, education and training." Several times a year, he said, police work with the Maryland Department of Transportation and other law enforcement agencies to divert traffic on a specific roadway so that an officer in unmarked vehicle can spot drivers using their phones.

McCullough noted taking your eyes off the road for as little as five seconds while driving 55 miles per hour is "like driving the length of an entire football field with your eyes closed."

"I say to America, put down the phones, the life you save may be your own," he said.

Alan Morales, a junior at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt, Maryland, and co-president of Students Against Destructive Decisions, said young people are particularly vulnerable to distracted driving, citing NHTSA data from 2021, which he said found the youngest drivers represented 16% of all those distracted by a cell phone during a fatal crash.

Morales' said his organization partnered with the NHTSA on a project to raise awareness of this issue. The administration also launched two ad campaigns in English and Spanish to discourage drivers from using cellphones, the release of which coincided with the start of Distracted Driving Awareness Month.

Joel Feldman, whose daughter was killed in a 2009 crash involving a distracted driver, urged parents to model good behavior for younger drivers. Feldman, founder of EndDD.org , said if drivers think more about the thousands killed in these kinds of crashes each year before taking their eyes off the road, they may be discouraged from doing so.

"And if we think about those folks who have killed while driving distracted, good decent people who they'll never be the same, we won't drive distracted. We don't want to be like them," Feldman said. "So for Casey, and for all those who've been killed by distracted driving we can do this. We must do this."

Distracted driving kills thousands: Here's why two states remain holdouts on distracted driving laws

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Lapd cop who once warned against drunk driving busted for dui with bac twice the legal limit.

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An LAPD cop who previously warned of the dangers of drunk driving has been charged with a felony DUI after a crash that left at least one person seriously injured.

Matthew Ensley allegedly had a blood alcohol level of .20, more than twice the legal limit, when he was arrested by California Highway Patrol (CHP) Sunday night.

Picture of Matthew Ensley

Ensley had been off-duty when he allegedly rear-ended another vehicle on the 605 in Santa Fe Springs just before 10: 30 p.m.

Two people were injured according to CHP officer Bob Whittenberg, who told the Los Angeles Times that one person had complained of head pain and another suffered a broken arm.

It remains unclear whether Ensley was relieved of his duties following his arrest.

An LAPD spokesperson told the publication that Ensley has been arrested and his most recent duty was with the transit division. 

The Post has contacted Ensley, CHP and the LAPD for comment.

The veteran cop who started at the LAPD in 2004 appeared at Bellflower Courthouse before Judge Warren Cato who discussed the beleaguered officer’s next court date.

California Highway Patrol exterior in Santa Fe Springs

Bill Seki, Ensley’s attorney, attempted to lower his clients $100,000 bail pointing to his close to 20 years in service and “community ties.”

“Mr. Ensley has never been involved in anything like this before,” Seki said. 

Kato declined to lower the amount, telling the court that while he understood Ensley is a “respected member of the community” he “couldn’t make exceptions” because of his status as an officer.

After joining the police force in 2004 Ensley earned a reputation as a hard-working cop.

In a post to X in December 2022, from a now deleted account, Ensley appeared to chastise drunk drivers pleading for them to “please call a friend or use a ride-share service after drinking.”

The tweet has again resurfaced online since Ensley’s arrest.

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Patrick Mahomes Sr. has been indicted on a charge of driving while intoxicated for a third or more time.

Mahomes Sr. faces the charges following a Feb. 3 incident in Smith County, Texas.

Mahomes Sr. could receive a 10-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine if convicted.

He has been charged with drunk driving multiple times.

The indictment was made on March 28.

The arrest came days before his son, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, won his third Super Bowl.

"It's a family matter, so I'll keep it to the family," Mahomes said at Super Bowl opening night. "That's all I have to say."

He was held on a $10,000 bond and was released before the Super Bowl.

Former Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler charged with drunken driving in North Providence, R.I.

When asked if he had been drinking alcohol, butler responded, “just take me to jail,” the police report said.

Malcolm Butler played with the Patriots for four seasons, winning two Super Bowls.

PROVIDENCE — Former New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler was arrested in North Providence earlier this month and charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, according to North Providence police.

On March 16 at about 3:22 a.m., Officer Vincenzo Nassi observed a car stopped in the westbound lane of Mineral Spring Avenue, according to a police report. The officer identified the driver of the white Mercedes as Butler, who said he was coming from a studio in Providence where he was making music. Police said the car was blocking westbound traffic in the area of the Route 146 on-ramps.

Nassi detected “a strong odor of alcoholic beverage” from Butler’s breath, as well as slurred and delayed speech “with severely bloodshot watery eyes,” according to the police report.

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When asked if he had been drinking alcohol, Butler responded, “just take me to jail,” the police report said. Butler refused to take field sobriety tests and was placed under arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence and brought to police headquarters.

Butler was also issued summons on charges of refusing to submit to the sobriety tests and parking or stopping in a prohibited intersection.

Butler is scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday in Third District Court, according to the police report. He will also appear in Rhode Island Traffic Tribunal Court on Friday.

Malcolm Butler was arrested in Providence and charged with driving under the influence, according to North Providence police.

Butler is known around New England for helping the Patriots win the 2015 Super Bowl against the Seattle Seahawks, when he made a game-winning interception.

He last played with the Titans in 2020 and had stints with the Cardinals and Patriots in 2021 and 2022. Butler announced his retirement on March 10.

“I am retired,” Butler said, according to NBC Sports . “I did the best I can do. Walking away from the game feeling comfortable. Everybody can do more, but I’m satisfied with my career. It’s time to move on and transition.”

Brittany Bowker can be reached at [email protected] . Follow her @brittbowker and also on Instagram @brittbowker .

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Patrick Mahomes Sr. Formally Indicted on Felony Drunk-Driving Charge After February Arrest

The father of Chiefs' quarterback Patrick Mahomes was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving on Feb. 3

drunk driving prevention articles

David Eulitt/Getty

  • Patrick Mahomes Sr. was indicted on a felony DWI charge
  • He was arrested in Smith County, Texas on Feb. 3, just before his son Patrick Mahomes won Super Bowl LVIII
  • It is Mahomes. Sr.'s third time facing a DWI charge

Patrick Mahomes Sr. has been formally indicted for a felony drunk-driving charge following an incident in Texas just one week before his son, Patrick Mahomes, led the Kansas City Chiefs to back-to-back Super Bowl wins.

Mahomes Sr., 53, was arrested on suspicion of a DWI on Feb. 3 and booked in the Smith County Jail, according to court records .

On March 28, the former MLB player was indicted on the felony charge, which is listed as "Driving While Intoxicated" for a third or more time, according to Smith County court records obtained by PEOPLE.

Mahomes Sr. has faced two prior DWI charges.

According to  Bleacher Report , he was charged with public intoxication in 2016 during a game between TCU and Texas Tech, his son's alma mater.

Tyler Police Department

He was also charged with a DWI offense in 2018. He pled guilty and served 40 days in a county jail, per Bleacher Report.

Never miss a story — sign up for  PEOPLE's free daily newsletter  to stay up-to-date on the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Mahomes Sr. shares sons Patrick, 28, and  Jackson Mahomes  with ex-wife Randi Martin . He is also dad to Zoe Mahomes, his daughter from a relationship with Anika Cooper following his split with Martin.

The Feb. 3 arrest came just one week before Patrick and the Chiefs won their second consecutive Super Bowl. The 2024 victory was the quarterback's third NFL championship in five years.

Patrick was asked about his father's arrest during press conferences ahead of the Super Bowl, and shared that Mahomes Sr. was "doing good."

“He's doing good,” Patrick said Feb. 5. "I don't really want to get into it too much, but he's doing good for whatever the situation is."

He added, "It's a family matter. I'll just keep it to the family, and that's all I really have to say at this point."

Mahomes Sr. was an MLB pitcher from 1992 to 2003. He played for the Boston Red Sox, New York Mets, Texas Rangers, Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburg Pirates.

He also earned himself a spot in the  Sioux Falls Canaries Hall of Fame , and he is currently the host of  The Big Mahomes Show , a weekly podcast that "pulls the curtain back on professional sports with coverage of all things sports," according to the series' Instagram  page .

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Patrick Mahomes Sr. indicted on felony drunk driving charge

TEXAS — Patrick Mahomes Sr., 53, has been indicted for a felony drunk-driving charge. According to court records , Mahomes was arrested on suspicion of a DWI on Feb. 3 and booked in the Smith County Jail.

The February incident occurred just a week before his son, quarterback Patrick Mahomes, led the Kansas City Chiefs to a Super Bowl win.

According to court records in Smith County, Mahomes was charged with felony “Driving While Intoxicated” for a third or more time on March 28.

Patrick Mahomes Sr. is the father of Patrick and Jackson Mahomes.

Mahomes Sr. has a history of two DWI charges.

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