Traffic Deaths Drop to 1940s Levels in Some States, NHTSA Reports

The Washington Post reports that the number of people killed in crashes dropped to 32,788 in 2010, the lowest total since 1949.  The 3% decrease from 2009 was recorded even as the nation's drivers put nearly 21 billion more miles on their odometers in 2010 than they had the previous year. The death rate has declined by 25% since a peak of 43,510 in 2005.

The Cost of Alcohol-Involved Crashes

This paper published by the Association for the Advancement of Automotive Medicine estimates total and unit costs of alcohol-involved crashes in the U.S. in 2010. With methods from earlier studies, costs per crash survivor by MAIS, body part, fracture/dislocation involvement were estimated. Further, they were multiplied by 2010 crash incidence estimates from NHTSA data sets, with adjustments for underreporting of crashes and their alcohol involvement. The unit costs are lifetime costs discounted at 3%. To develop medical costs, 2008 Health Care Utilization Program national data were combined for hospitalizations and ED visits of crash survivors with prior estimates of post-discharge costs. Productivity losses drew on Current Population Survey and American Time Use Survey data. Quality of life losses came from a 2011 AAAM paper and property damage from insurance data. Hybrid incidence files were built comprised of 2008–2010 and 1984–86 NHTSA crash surveillance data, weighted with 2010 General Estimates System weights. Fatality data came from the 2010 FARS. An estimated 12% of 2010 crashes but only 0.9% of miles driven were alcohol-involved (BAC>.05). Alcohol-involved crashes cost an estimated $125 billion. That is 22.5% of the societal cost of all crashes. Alcohol-attributable crashes accounted for an estimated 22.5% of US auto liability insurance payments. Alcohol-involved crashes cost $0.86 per drink. Above the US BAC limit of .08, crash costs were $8.37 per mile driven; 1 in 788 trips resulted in a crash and 1 in 1,016 trips in an arrest. Unit costs for crash survivors by severity are higher for impaired driving than for other crashes. That suggests national aggregate impaired driving cost estimates in other countries are substantial underestimates if they are based on all-crash unit costs.

New Jersey Bill Would Make Traffic Tickets Exempt From Public Disclosure Under Open Records Act

A New Jersey Bill set for hearing in January 2014 would exclude traffic summonses from government records that are subject to public access under the Open Public Records Act.  Currently, many attorneys in the State with municipal court practices mine traffic summons records in order to identify person receiving traffic tickets for the purpose of direct solicitation of legal representation by mail  Persons receiving these solicitations are often greatly embarrassed that their traffic ticket seems to be a matter of extensive public knowledge and concern.

Federal Grant Funds Colorado Effort to Fight Driving While High on Marijuana

The Denver Post reports that efforts are expanding to keep those who overindulge on marijuana from getting behind the wheel and punishing those who do.  A $400,000 grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is being used for an anti-imbibing and driving campaign and to train more law enforcement officers to spot marijuana-impaired drivers. Public safety officials are worried that as the number of recreational marijuana shops increases, so will the number of people who get too high to drive.

Drivers Could Pay Own DWI Tests in Texas County

The Houston Chronicle reports that people convicted of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in Harris County could be required to pay for their blood tests as lab officials seek to recoup costs and hire more toxicologists.  Legislators in 2009 approved a law allowing search warrants for blood samples to be expedited if a person refuses to do a breath test.  The institute in 2012 spent about $358,000 processing more than 6,200 cases, including nearly 2,000 DWI and driving under the influence cases.

Pennsylvania Driver Sentenced for 11th DUI

Chester County Common Pleas Court Judge Phyllis Streitel sentenced Douglas Gibboney, 51, of Devon to five to ten years for the dual charges of DUI and driving with a DUI-suspended license.  It mirrored the maximum amount that the prosecutor in the case had requested.  Gibboney had been scheduled in October to turn himself in to begin serving a sentence of three to ten years for his 10th DUI.  The sentence that Streitel imposed for the 11th DUI will be served after he completes that term.

Upcoming Events

  • February 9-11, 2014: 2014 NACM Midyear Conference, Savannah, Georgia
  • April 27-29, 2014: Lifesavers Conference, Nashville, TN
  • May 14-16, 2014: Drugged Driving Essentials For The Judiciary, The National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada.  Scholarships are available for interested applicants. Please email Irene Hart at for more information.
  • October 6-9, 2014:   Traffic Issues in the 21st Century, The National Judicial College, Reno, Nevada. Scholarships are available for interested applicants. Please email Irene Hart at for more information. 
  • Ongoing: The National Judicial College is available year round to present traffic related courses for your jurisdiction at no cost. If interested, please contact Irene Hart at
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