Changes in Alcohol-Involved Fatal Crashes Associated with Tougher State Alcohol Legislation
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Changes in Alcohol-Involved Fatal Crashes Associated with Tougher State Alcohol Legislation

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    From 1982 to 1988, many states implemented statutes, such as administrative suspension of driver licenses and mandatory jail terms and/or fines for persons convicted of drunk driving, intended to reduce the incidence of alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes. Two recent studies of sanction effectiveness related to changes in alcohol-related fatal crashes arrived at differing conclusions. These differences in findings appear due, in part, to the methodologies employed to assess sanction effectiveness, and the authors' determination as to what constituted a severe sanction in a particular state. To identify potentially effective sanctions and resolve inconsistencies in existing findings, NHTSA contracted with Sigmastat Inc. to assess the effectiveness of selected sanctions. Box-Tiao time series/intervention analysis was used to measure the significance of changes in crash rates coincident with the implementation of particular sanctions. Single-vehicle nighttime (8 p.m. to 4 a.m.) driver involvements in fatal crashes per 100 fatal crash driver involvements were used as a surrogate for alcohol-related fatal crashes. Estimated changes were normalized by dividing the change in each state by the baseline rate and multiplying by 100 to produce a percentage change for each legislative sanction in each state. Six of the 17 states (35 percent) implementing mandatory administrative license suspension, either alone or in combination with other sanctions, experienced statistically significant reductions. Two of the seven states (29 percent) implementing mandatory license suspension, most often in association with an illegal per se law, experienced significant reductions. Six of the 26 states (23 percent) implementing illegal per se, alone or in combination with various sanctions, demonstrated significant reductions. Only one of the 13 states (8 percent) implementing a mandatory jail/community service sanction, typically in combination with an illegal per se statute, was found to experience a significant reduction. These results suggest that some form of licensing sanction appears to be relatively more promising as a deterrent to drunk driving, compared with other sanctions. Differences in effectiveness among the states in this analysis suggest that many other factors associated with the implementation of sanctions, such as enforcement, public perception, etc., are important to their success. /Abstract from report summary page/
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