Effective Policies to Combat Drunk Driving

Drunk driving is a serious problem in the United States, especially among young adults who are unaware of their limits. All 50 states have policies in place to deter drunk driving, such as DUI checkpoints on major holidays and stiff penalties – including jail time and harsh fines. While those measures are effective, new research suggests that policies designed to deter binge-drinking are equally effective, ScienceDaily reports. States that have implemented stricter alcohol policies have lower rates of self-reported drunk driving.

Researchers at the Boston University schools of public health and medicine and the University of Minnesota School of Public Health assigned each state an “alcohol policy score.” States that were found to have higher scores had a decreased likelihood of impaired driving. The states were scored using 29 different alcohol policies, such as alcohol taxation.

“Basically, our study supports two parallel mechanisms involved in addressing drunk driving: Drinking policies reduce the likelihood of getting drunk, and driving policies prevent drunk folks from getting behind the wheel,” said study lead author Ziming Xuan, ScD, an assistant professor of community health sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health.

The research showed that high alcohol taxes, safe serving laws, and retail sales restrictions were effective measures to combat drunk driving, according to the article. Despite stricter penalties and excessive drinking deterrents, for the last two decades the rate of drunk driving related accidents has stayed about the same – around 33 percent.

“It is clear that in order for states to comprehensively address drunk driving as a public health issue, more effective policies need to be put into place to address excessive alcohol consumption,” Xuan said.

The findings were published in the International Journal of Alcohol and Drug Research. __________________________________________________

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