Archive for the ‘Highway Safety’ Category

Studies find binge drinking on the increase

December 27, 2010

University of Texas School Public Health drinking alcohol study health surveys National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Dr. Raul Caetano dean university's Southwestern School of Medical Professions Gallup government surveys binge drinking driving under the influence of alcohol prevent impaired driving Cleared2Drive According to a report from researchers at the University of Texas School of Public Health the percentage of people drinking alcohol is the highest it has been since the mid-1980s, and binge drinking has also risen sharply.

The study looked at two national health surveys of adults (18 and older) in 1991-92 and 2001-02 by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism and found that more people overall were drinking at the start of the millennium. More recent data were not available to the researchers. “The reasons for the uptick vary and may involve complex social and demographic changes to the population, but the findings are clear: More people are consuming alcohol than in the early ’90s,” said Dr. Raul Caetano, dean of the university’s Southwestern School of Medical Professions.

“Drinking” was defined during both survey periods as having consumed at least 12 drinks with at least 0.6 ounces of any kind of alcohol within the past year. Anyone who had consumed less than that much alcohol or said they never drank was classified as a nondrinker. By that definition, drinking was up 5% to 7% during that decade among men of all ethnic groups, so that 64% of white men, 60% of Hispanic men and 53% of black men were drinking. Among women, the rate rose by 8% to 9%, to 47% of whites, 32% of Hispanics and 30% of blacks. Those numbers seem to fit closely with a midsummer Gallup survey that found 67% of adults drank any alcohol at all, versus totally abstaining. That was the highest drinking rate since 1985.

The government surveys showed binge drinking — having more than five drinks in one day — increased among all ethnic groups and genders, but particularly among men. The share of white men who consumed five drinks a day at least once a week rose from 9% to 14%, and there was a similar increase among Hispanic men. Among women, whites are also more likely than other ethnic groups to binge drink.

All of this translates into more people driving under the influence of alcohol as well which we are seeing in other studies.  Other than total abstention, the only way to prevent impaired driving is to install a Cleared2Drive system on your vehicle.

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Wyoming is Unfortunately Losing their Battle Against Drunk Driving

December 19, 2010

intoxicated MADD Cleared2Drive dangers drunk driving drugged driving impaired driving Good2Gofatalities involving alcoholWyoming’s crash data suggests that drinking and driving contributes to more deaths and injuries on the road in the Cowboy State than safety advocates or any of the rest of us would like.  Of the 116 fatal crashes that happened in Wyoming in 2009, 55 people died because alcohol was a factor.  Of 3,361 injury crashes, 697 people were hurt because of alcohol.

Between 2005 and 2007, alcohol contributed to an average of 33% of the state’s highway fatalities, according to Wyoming’s 2009 Report on Traffic Crashes, released earlier this month. In 2008, that went up to 50%, and in 2009 it was 41%. While an odd year can really skew the numbers in a sparsely populated state like Wyoming, the five-year average for percentage of fatalities involving alcohol is 38.  According to Dee West Peterson, State Coordinator for Highway Safety at the Wyoming Department of Transportation which puts out the above report, “We’re not winning this battle”.

Too often, people think they can make it home safely when they are intoxicated, said Debbie Taylor, a MADD volunteer in Casper.”I do believe it is a cultural change that needs to take place,” she said and all of us at Cleared2Drive couldn’t agree more.  As we have stated many times, we have been educating people of the dangers of drunk driving for close to 30 years now and unfortunately many have not gotten the message.  It is going to take much more than education and the possibility of some sort of punishment to eradicate drunk driving or drugged driving or  impaired driving or whatever you want to call it in Wyoming or any other state.

NTSB wants to make Hard-Core Drunk Drivers a High PriorityT

December 15, 2010

Laura Dean-Mooney national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving MADD ignition interlocks impaired driving breathalyzer Sarah Longwell American Beverage Institute moderate social drinking DUI offenders sobriety checkpoints Cleared2Drive’s Impairment Detection Technology impaired drivingUSA Today reports The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) wants states to make drivers caught with high blood alcohol concentrations (BAC) or repeat drunk driving offenses a high priority.  Excuse me for asking, but why is the NTSB waiting until December 2009 to make this a priority?

NTSB reports that 70% of the drunk-driving accidents last year were caused by these  so-called “hard-core” drunk drivers. The term, “hard-core drunk drivers” is defined as individuals who have a second DUI offense within 10 years of their first, or who are found to have at least 0.15 percent alcohol content in their blood.

Jake Nelson, AAA’s Director of Traffic Safety says, “Hard-core drunk drivers are, in many ways, resistant to the countermeasures we’ve applied since the early ’80s”. Back in the early 1980s when Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) was founded, drunk driving accounted for 50% of road fatalities, where in 2009 it accounted for 32%, when 10,839 people were killed.  In my estimation given the amount of education we have done in the US over the past 30 years, this number is still extremely high.

“You’re seeing harsher and harsher statutes being enacted in various states across the country,” said Joanne Michaels, who directs the National Traffic Law Center. She said that district attorneys are charging drunken drivers in fatal crashes as severely as possible which don’t you think they should have been doing all along?  Didn’t most of us Americans come to the conclusion years ago that drunk driving is no accident and is 100% preventable?

Laura Dean-Mooney, national president of MADD, said, “We believe that anyone who drives drunk is a potential threat to kill or injure people” and wants federal lawmakers to require that all first-time DUI offenders get ignition interlocks. Okay, this is good, but until we start approaching this with a pro-active solution, impaired driving is not going to stop.  MADD is also is asking that Congress allocate $60 million to create and test improved ignition interlock devices to be put in all vehicles which is only going to work if you develop the right technology.  Asking people to put a tricked out breathalyzer, or a breathalyzer called something else in a lame attempt to disguise it, in their vehicle is just not going to fly.  The breathalyzer has a stigma that is just NOT going to go away – see December 14th blog.

Sarah Longwell of The American Beverage Institute said that MADD’s plans go far beyond just hard-core drunk drivers. “Rather than focusing on the hard-core population, there has been this move to target moderate social drinking,” she said. She favored graduated sanctions for offenders and mobile patrols for DUI offenders instead of sobriety checkpoints.

Honestly, until we as a society utilize technology designed specifically to recognize impairment like Cleared2Drive’s Impairment Detection Technology, drunk or impaired driving is not going away and we will continue to bury our loved ones.

Alcoholism stigma keeps more than 60% of Americans from seeking treatment

December 14, 2010

stigma alcoholism drinking problems Dr. Katherine Keyes of Columbia's Mailman School of Public Health National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) alcohol use disorder alcohol abuse treatment psychiatric disorders drive under the influence ignition interlock devices breathalyzers New research indicates that due to the stigma of alcoholism, more than 60% of Americans with drinking problems do not seek the help they so desperately need, UPI reported Dec. 5.

Dr. Katherine Keyes of Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health led a team of investigators who looked at National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC) responses from more than 6,300 participants who met criteria for an alcohol use disorder. According to their findings, problem drinkers who perceived a stigma associated with alcohol abuse, which accounted for a full 2/3 of the participants, were less likely to seek treatment than those who did not.   This was especially true among men, racial and ethnic minorities, and participants with lower income and education.

“Given that alcohol use disorders are one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in the United States, the empirical documentation of stigma as a barrier to treatment is an important public health finding,” said Keyes.  Their recommendation is that stigma reduction should be integrated into public health efforts to promote alcohol treatment.  And while that is all well and good, that could literally take a lifetime and in the meantime . . .

In the meantime, all those Americans with drinking problems continue with their problems and most likely will drive under the influence.

This is “empirical documentation of stigma” also applies to ignition interlock devices, better known as breathalyzers, which is why they will never be accepted by the general public no matter what label The Automotive Coalition for Traffic Safety (ACTS) or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) slaps on them.  In our society we believe that in order for someone to have a breathalyzer in their vehicle they must have gotten a DUI arrest or DWI arrest which translates into “you are a bad person.”  Americans are asking the federal government’s to spend $60 million dollars to develop the Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety (DADSS) system, but in my humble opinion, the general public is never going to accept the type of technology they are currently working on  as they already see it as nothing more than a fancy, dressed up term for breathalyzer.

We have worked very hard to keep our Cleare2Drive System from getting just such a reputation because our Impairment Detection Technology (IDT) is NOT a breathalyzer – never has been, never will be.  Our IDT is the newest in safety technology just like airbags were a few years ago.  Unlike breathalyzers our system is so discreet that even a passenger in your front seat won’t notice that you are doing anything out of the ordinary to start your vehicle as the sequence necessary to start the vehicle is typically completed in less than 10 seconds.

Granted our clients are typically NOT the person with the substance abuse problem, most of the time it is a member of their family, and in talking to enough of them we know that they would never consider installing a breathalyzer on the vehicle voluntarily just because of  the “empirical stigma”.  With the Cleared2Drive system no one is stigmatized or embarrassed by having to blow into a tube.  We purposefully designed the Cleared2Drive System to detect impairment but do it in a manner that reinforces good behavior, protects everyone on the road, all without ever subjecting the driver to embarrassment or humiliation.