SWOV Catalogus


A history of the science and law behind DUI.
I E826127 /83 / ITRD E826127

Traffic Safety Center Online Newsletter. 2003 /Summer 1(3) pp4

Samenvatting After taking a dip in the early 1990s, alcohol-related deaths have been on the rise three years in a row now, according to the latest statistics from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Some say that the rise is caused in part by a diminished sense of urgency in the media regarding drinking and driving. An examination of the history of impaired driving in the U.S. reveals that when impaired driving becomes a less visible problem in the public eye, drivers may be lulled into a false sense of security. When Prohibition ended in the mid 1930s and alcohol was again made widely available, public concern over the dangers of drinking and driving grew. In 1939, Indiana became the first state to enact a law that used blood alcohol concentration as a trigger for sanctions. Rates dropped, but the problem worsened again over the next two decades. When a watershed 1964 study showed that a blood alcohol concentration of 0.04% was enough to increase significantly a driver's likelihood of being involved in a collision, the numbers of alcohol- related crashes dropped. But drinking and driving had again become a major health concern by the early 1980s, when Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and other citizen-based advocacy groups were formed. These groups helped usher in laws imposing jail time, vehicle forfeiture and other stiff measures. Police arrests for DUI increased by more than 50 percent in 1982 and stayed near that level for the rest of the 1980s. This was the period of the greatest drop in alcohol-related fatal crashes, from 60% in 1980 to 43% in 1993. Now, with impaired driving once again on the rise, researchers suggest that the anti- drinking and driving message may have been integrated too well, as to create the impression that the problem had been solved, when in fact it continues to pose a serious public health risk.
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