Archive for the 'drunk driving' Category

CR President on HuffPost Live!

Friday, May 24th, 2013

Choose Responsibility President Barrett Seaman recently participated in a HuffPost Live conversation on the legal blood alcohol limit in the United States. The conversation, consisting of Seaman, Deanna Russo (Executive Director at Crusade Against Impaired Driving); John Celock (HuffPost State Government Reporter); J.T. Griffin (Senior VP for Public Policy at MADD); and Dr. Barron H. Lerner (Associate Professor, College of Physicians and Surgeons), questioned whether or not .08 is an appropriate BAC level.

CR holds the belief that lowering the BAC and more stringently enforcing the law is a better approach to saving lives that a heightened BAC.

View the entire interview here, and let us know what you think.

Inmates sue alcoholic beverage companies

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

Five inmates from Idaho are suing several alcohol producers for allegedly duping them about the effects of alcohol. Their $1 billion law suit is based on the premise that alcohol caused the inmates’ crimes. They also argue that they would never have had a drink had they known that drinking could lead to alcoholism. The inmates fail to comment on their own personal responsibility.

Read the full article here.

Alcohol and Motor Control

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Experiments have shown that despite age, the adolescent brain actually maintains better balance, reaction time, and hand eye coordination than an adult brain under the same level of alcohol impairment. While some researchers use that evidence to assert that it allows young adults to get drunker before becoming incapacitated, is it not an equally valid assertion that under the same level of alcohol impairment the young adult driver would perform better than the older driver?

Happy Halloween

Friday, October 31st, 2008

From all of us here at [CR], have a safe and happy Halloween tonight. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that Halloween night is one of the most dangerous nights of the year for alcohol-related traffic deaths: 44 percent of all traffic deaths on Halloween night occur as the result of a legally intoxicated driver. Compared to other holiday periods, Halloween night has one of the highest proportions of alcohol-related traffic deaths, ahead of both Christmas night (38 percent) and New Year’s Eve (41 percent). Be safe tonight – if you do choose to drink, make sure you have a designated driver to help you get home safely. Enjoy Halloween responsibly!

States Consider Tougher DUI Laws

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

This week, two states considered enacting tougher DUI legislation that aims to prevent repeat drunk driving offenses. In Ohio, the Cleveland Plain Dealer’s Ellen Jan Kleinerman reported that a breath-alcohol test is now mandatory for all suspected drunk drivers that have previous DUI convictions – 33,000 drivers in Ohio have five or more, according to Ohio Department of Public Safety records. Kleinerman wrote that prior to the passing of the new law many drivers refused the breath test, even though it meant an automatic suspension of their license. In Texas, Jessica Meyers of the Dallas Morning News reported that lawmakers may implement a number of changes to the state’s DUI laws: one of the changes would lift the state ban on sobriety checkpoints, and the other would require all first-time DUI offenders to install alcohol ignition interlocks in their vehicles. While Texas law already contains a provision for ignition interlocks, the proposed change would close loopholes that delay installation of the devices. Meyers noted that Texas is one of only 11 states that prohibit sobriety checkpoints, and Texas Rep. Linda Harper-Brown said that checkpoints are on the books in neighboring states such as Louisiana and New Mexico. Ignition interlocks are specific tools that lawmakers can use to stop repeat offenders – read more about them here. Texas and Ohio are targeting the right group with these new laws – drunk drivers, and not young people who could learn to drink responsibly if given the chance.

New Study Examines Legal Age 21

Tuesday, July 1st, 2008

A new study, published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, has examined minimum legal drinking age 21 and drunk driving fatalities over the last few decades, and concludes that there has been decreases in teen drunk driving fatalities since MLDA 21 went into effect.  The study also reports that laws enforcing strict punishment for the use of fake IDs are significantly effective in reducing drunk driving fatalities, according to U.S. News & World Report.  Interestingly, one of the primary researchers for the study is a former board member for MADD…

This review by U.S. News & World Report is a prologue to an upcoming, larger article on teen brain research and the role of alcohol.  We are interested to see what the authors come up with, and will keep you posted on the status of that piece.

Scare Tactics Used to Prevent Drunk Driving

Monday, June 23rd, 2008

We were shocked to read about last month’s scandal at El Camino high school in

San Diego, CA, where highway patrol officers visited the school one Monday and told students that many of their classmates had been killed in drunk driving crashes over the weekend.  The news frightened students, resulting in a hysterical frenzy in classrooms and hallways as students grieved for 26 of their classmates, who they believed had died.  Later in the day, the “dead” students returned to school, revealing that the entire plan was a hoax that was intended to scare students away from drinking and driving.  School officials claim that scare tactics, like this, are effective in preventing dangerous behavior:  “[Students] were traumatized, but we wanted them to be traumatized,” said guidance counselor Lori Tauber.  “That’s how they get the message.”  However, putting severe psychological distress on students is an unethical and irresponsible way to try and teach a positive message about drinking.  The community would be much better served by trying to teach students about responsible and safe drinking, so that they can make educated choices about drinking and driving.  When a student learns about the consequences of drinking and driving, that knowledge will stay with them for life.  Scare tactics, on the other hand, create fears that can fade over time, possibly leading to dangerous decisions in the future. 

Are you afraid of the Grim Reaper?

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

Effective alcohol education is pragmatic, and stresses safety over scare tactics.  We were intrigued, if not a bit frightened, to learn of the drastic measures taken to scare teenagers into (they think) refraining from alcohol-related activities. Beyond the classroom lessons instructing teens of the dangers of “demon rum,” one company has taken scare tactics to a new level. A costumed “Grim Reaper”removes one student from class every 15 minutes. Next, a police officer reads an obituary that has been written by the “dead” student’s parents. The program also includes a simulated traffic crash, hospital overnight retreat, and — even better — an audio-visualization of every student’s death.

Drunk driving is a problem with which we need to grapple; however, the solution does not rest in scare tactics.  In order to see results, we need to emphasize the need for safety, and encourage moderation, not prohibition.

Alcohol Nannies: Time-Out Needed

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

Two steps forward, one step back. Or vice versa? A well-executed article by David Harsanyi examines the alarming shift from prevention to prohibition amongst “alcohol nannies” — most notably, Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The long-term reduction of alcohol-related fatalities, and overall fatalities more generally, should be applauded and attributed to automotive safety innovation and effective campaigns encouraging the use of seat belts and designated drivers.  However, we must also consider the fact that alcohol-related fatalities have remained stable since 1997, and trended upward over the past decade.   Targeting and arresting casual, moderate drinkers is a waste of time and resources, and provides a free ride for those hardcore drunk drivers who continually violate the law and place themselves and others at risk. The reversal in drunken driving trends is therefore not surprising. Americans who illustrate responsible and moderate alcohol use should be commended, not arrested.  In order to move forward, we need to turn away from prohibition and towards the core mission of preventing and reducing drunk driving.

What, exactly, is “science?”

Monday, October 15th, 2007

What, exactly, is “science?”  And what is “preponderance of evidence?”


Much has been made in recent days about how “science” proves “overwhelmingly” that a lower drinking age reduces alcohol-related traffic fatalities.  The supporting evidence for this claim may be found in a 2002 article by Alex Wagenaar and Traci Toomey, which identifies 52 peer-reviewed analyses that establish a cause-and-effect relationship between drinking age and traffic fatalities.


This is called “science,” when, in reality, it is mathematics, statistics, probability, abstraction, estimates.  Generating these data did not require a laboratory, nor did it require an advanced degree in any of the natural sciences.  These data are the result of “imputation” (try deciphering NHTSA’s definition of that term), assumption, extrapolation, and the plugging of numbers into a formula.  That’s math, folks, not science.  And it’s an estimate.  And there is not a single, identifiable human life associated with any of those numbers.  How after all count wars not fought?  Fortunes not made?  Friends never met?  Lives not lost?


So let’s begin by using the correct term.  This is “mathematics speaking for itself,” not science.


But when a discipline speaks for itself, it requires no filter, though it demands its hearers not listen selectively.


And here’s why.  The same peer-reviewed article that lists 52 analyses showing a cause-and-effect relationship between a higher drinking age and lower traffic fatalities notes that this number is out of a TOTAL of 102 such analyses.  In other words, about HALF the analyses show a relationship … and HALF don’t.


The other side can say, as they have in each of the following publications, that these are simply one man’s opinions (Parade Magazine).  They can question why an historian knows more about science that scientists (KGO radio).  They can dismiss CR’s assertions as untruths (KGO radio, Fox News).  In short, they can continue ad hominem responses.  Or they can explain what the scholar they cite, who is a member of MADD’s own Board of Directors, means by this statement (p. 213):


“Of the 102 analyses, 52 (51%) found a statistically significant inverse relationship between the legal drinking age and crashes;  that is, as the legal age was lowered, the number of crashes increased, and as the legal age was raised, the number of crashes decreased.”


These are not “off-the-cuff musings.”  These are not “opinions masquerading as facts.”  They are peer-reviewed data that any historian – or political science major – can read and quickly grasp.


So the next time you hear about “more than 50 peer-reviewed studies,” keep in mind:  the actual number is 52.  And that’s out of a total of 102.


Let’s let science (er, rather, mathematics) speak for itself.  Unencumbered by emotion.  Without personal attacks.  And in the service of nothing more, or less, than the truth.

 –[CR] Director John McCardell