Low angle view of the front part of a car after an accident.
Experts seek solutions for Arizona’s DUI problems
With so many cases of severe injuries and even death, Arizona’s notorious reputation for drunk drivers has dominated headlines in recent years. There has been significantly less about what Arizona has done to combat this serious issue.
However, even though Arizona has failed to find creative and effective solutions, other effective solutions, both nationally and globally, are being implemented.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010 more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes; one every 51 minutes.
Although driving under the influence is not a new issue, impaired driving, especially when it pertains to wrong-way driving, gained notoriety in recent years. Last year alone there were seven fatalities due to wrong-way driving, in which 75 percent of the drivers were under the influence of alcohol, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
This federal fiscal year, from October 2013-September 2014, the Tempe Police Department issues 1,446 DUI’s, according to Molly Enbright, the PIO for Tempe Police.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety insists that progress is being made to prevent DUI’s in Arizona, particularly those where drivers are going in the wrong direction.
Wrong-way sign enhancement began in June 2014 in an effort to make them more visible for drivers going against the flow of traffic. “Right-way arrows” were installed on the pavement to indicate the correct direction of the road. Several research studies are also being conducted by ADOT to understand how technology, such as wrong-way sensors, could be used to prevent drunken driving accidents, Nintzel said.
Beyond DUI crashes, Tempe Police work on education in schools, communities, and with local businesses in an effort to prevent drunken driving.
“The Police Department works to bridge community-based policing with intelligence-led policing,” Enbright said.”
The goal is to educate people, especially students, of the consequences of drunk driving.
“Tempe and agencies throughout the state remain committed to making the streets of our communities safer through aggressive impaired driving enforcement and continued education,” Enbright said.
Even though locally, driving under the influence is a problem that needs to be fixed. Globally there are several creative solutions being implemented to prevent this offense.
Last year, during Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the company Antarctica Beer allowed people to trade in their empty beer cans for free public transportation, according to an online Australian publication, coolaustralia.org.
They set up a customized turnstile that read the barcode on the beer cans, waving the transportation fee. This encouraged many people to use public transport rather than risk a DUI.
More than 1,000 people used public transportation per hour, 86 percent higher than usual. The number of drinking incidents was reduced by 43 percent.
Cities in the U.S. may not implement empty beer cans for transport, but they may consider the DUI solution used in Yakima, Wash., which allows police to confiscate and sell the car used by someone convicted of a DUI. Those convicted of a second DUI within seven years are liable to have their car taken and sold, provided they own the car and it was the car they were driving while under the influence. According to the Seattle Times, this law was passed in 1994; however, the city recently decided to implement it in 2013 to see if it would reduce the extremely high amount of those convicted of driving under the influence in Yakima.
Although the Tempe Police recognized differing measures being taken elsewhere, the scope of the measures above may be too great to implement because of the legal and financial implications of enforcing them.
Although driving under the influence has been an issue in the past, the city of Tempe law enforcement is hopeful that their continued efforts will be enough to transform this issue.