Distracted Driving: Survey of the States

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recently issued a report titled, “2013 Distracted Driving: Survey of the States.” In late 2012, the GSHA surveyed its members to find out how states were responding to distracted driving as a result of the use of electronic devices. Fifty states and the District of Columbia completed the survey, offering insights into state highway safety office (SHSO) policy, research, enforcement and educational efforts undertaken to mitigate the effects of distracted driving. This report shows that as distracted driving has grown as a priority in the highway safety community, SHSO leaders have continued to be on the front line of efforts to address distracted driving in their states. Key findings of the 2012 survey include the following. (1) The recognition of and emphasis on distracted driving as a highway safety priority continues to grow. (2) States have been passing key distracted driving-related laws.

Digest of Impaired Driving And Selected Beverage Control Laws

The Twenty-Seventh Edition of NHTSA’s “Digest of Impaired Driving And Selected Beverage Control Laws” has just become available online. It contains 50 state comparative charts on Administrative License Revocation (ALR) Laws and Sanctions, Ignition Interlock Laws and Sobriety Checkpoint and Selected Beverage Control Laws. It also identifies the key statutory sections for the above information for each state. This is a great resource.

The Correlation between Alcohol Sales and DUIs

On August 7, 2013, Timothy P. Schofield and Thomas F. Denson, both of the School of Psychology, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia released a study titled, “Temporal Alcohol Availability Predicts First-Time Drunk Driving, but Not Repeat Offending.” The study used 2009 data from the state of New York. It sought to determine whether there was a relationship “between the business hours of alcohol outlets licensed to serve alcohol for on-premises consumption, and misdemeanor-level (first offense) and felony-level drunk driving (repeat offense) charges.” They determined that “temporal alcohol availability may be an impelling factor for first-time drunk driving, but other factors likely influence repeat drunk driving behaviors.” This is a very interesting study.

Talking While Driving

According to this August 2013 article in Science News, (Seppa, Nathan. Impactful Distraction: Talking while driving poses dangers that people seem unable to see) legislative action against texting and driving may be ignoring other distracted driving habits which are just as dangerous. One recent study of drivers in city traffic found that a conversation with a passenger, a hand-held phone and hands-free phones were all equally distracting and interfered with driving ability.

Seated Sobriety Testing For Boaters

Yahoo News reported on August 12, 2013 that states are taking a tougher approach to combating boating while intoxicated.  The U.S. Coast Guard estimates that on average since 2003, 124 people have died each year in the U.S. in crashes where alcohol was to blame.  As a result, 38 states are now using a Coast Guard-funded seated sobriety test.  The tests are used when SFSTs are impossible because the of the movement of the watercraft in the water.  Additionally, 15 states now suspend driver’s license as a consequence of boating while intoxicated.  The congressionally mandated National Recreational Boating Safety Program, calls for a 5 percent overall reduction in the number of alcohol-related deaths by 2016.

Wyoming Moves Towards a 24/7 Sobriety Program

The Star Tribune recently reported that the Wyoming Joint Judiciary Interim Committee unanimously approved a bill that would create a pilot test with 6-7 counties for a 24/7 Sobriety Program.  The legislation will now get legislative consideration at the next legislative session.  Mike Reed, coordinator for the governor’s council on impaired driving, said that the program has driven a 50 percent reduction in recidivism in the South Dakota’s DUIs and a 9 percent to 12 percent reduction in domestic violence.

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