Drunk Driving Over the Holidays

duiWith Christmas and New Year’s Eve just days away, it is a sad fact that many people will drive under-the-influence of alcohol and/or drugs. While law enforcement officials do their best to discourage the behavior, reducing the number of drivers who might consider driving intoxicated and pulling over as many suspects as possible; unfortunately, it is not possible to get them all and every year people lose their lives to drunk driving – especially during the holiday season.

A new study has found states that more commonly conduct random traffic stops and arrest more people for DUI’s have fewer drunk drivers on their roads, HealthDay reports. Researchers looked at data from the 2007 National Roadside Survey, focusing on almost 6,900 weekend nighttime drivers in 30 communities who were pulled over and screened for blood alcohol levels.

The research showed that in those states where officials more actively enforced drunk driving laws, they were more equipped to deter people from driving drunk to begin with. When people think they are more likely to get caught, they are more apt to reconsider driving drunk.

“Hardly any new laws are being passed regarding drinking and driving,” said study lead author James Fell, a senior research scientist with the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Calverton, Md. “So we think the best strategy for making progress on reducing impaired driving could be better enforcement of the laws we already have.”

In 2013, there were 10,076 deaths from crashes that involved a drunk driver, one death every 52 minutes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Only two measures were found by researchers to deter people from driving drunk: more random traffic stops per state residents and more DUI arrests per state residents, the article notes.

“People only change their behavior when they think they’re going to get caught,” Kara Macek, a spokeswoman for the Governors Highway Safety Association in Washington, D.C., told HealthDay. “When it comes to drunk driving you need to use the stick more than the carrot.”

The findings were published online in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.