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Drunk driving and need for enforcement

February 11, 2012
By DAVE WERNER ( , Franklin County Traffic Safety Board

"Thirty two killed by drunk driving." That could be today's headline; it could also be yesterday's headline, or any day, because drunk drivers kill 32 people every day in the U.S., or someone every 45 minutes.

Furthermore, the annual cost of alcohol related crashes is more than $51 billion! Information obtained from the Professional Insurance Agents Association (PIAA) says it is estimated that approximately four million innocent people are injured or have their vehicles damaged in alcohol-related crashes each year.

Some of the warning signs that a vehicle may be operated by a drunk driver include:

-Making unnecessarily wide turns

-Straddling lanes or driving to the far right or left of the driving lane

-Driving at night without headlights, especially where there are street lights

-Driving at speeds below the speed limit

-Breaking erratically or stopping without cause

-Accelerating or decelerating rapidly

-Coming close to striking an object or curb

According to the PIAA, should you notice a driver displaying the above warning signs, maintain a safe distance, note the vehicle's license plate number and the vehicle's description, and contact the police as soon as possible.

Recently, Franklin County Stop DWI coordinator, Mike Fleury released DWI arrest statistics to the local media for 2011. A good sign is that DWI arrests were down from 2010. He also released the dates for enforcement crackdowns in 2012. This is an important tool to reduce DWIs, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Sobriety checkpoints help to deter alcohol-impaired driving and catch violators. The Center for Disease Control estimates that alcohol-related crashes drop by about 20 percent when well-publicized checkpoints are conducted. This is the reasoning behind announcing in advance when checkpoints and roving patrols will be held.

According to the Governor's Highway Safety Association, 38 states, (including New York) and D.C. conduct sobriety checkpoints. The two keys to success are publicity and frequency. If checkpoints are held often over long periods and are well publicized, motorists assume police are cracking down on impaired drivers, even if other enforcement hasn't been stepped up. This helps to dissuade people from driving after drinking, according to the IIHS. Isn't that what we all want?


For more information on traffic safety, visit and click on Traffic Safety Board.



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