Articles Posted in Drunk Driving Prevention

Thousands of people are killed or injured every year by drivers who have not reached the legal standard for being drunk but who have a reduced ability to see, make decisions or operate a vehicle, the National Transportation Safety Board said on Tuesday, and it recommended that the states reduce the allowable blood-alcohol concentration by more than a third, to 0.05 percent from 0.08 percent.

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The New York Times reports that the current standard was established a decade ago at the instigation of Congress, and progress has stalled, the board said, with about 10,000 fatalities a year.

State Treasurer Steven Grossman and the Massachusetts Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission (ABCC), in conjunction with the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) national Impaired Driving Crackdown, will focus enforcement efforts at bars throughout the commonwealth during the 2012 holiday season.

The operation started the night before Thanksgiving, and will continue through New Year’s Eve.

“This type of enforcement effort can save lives and prevent tragedies before they happen,” said Grossman. “Operation Safe Holidays takes immediate and effective steps that result in the direct prevention of drunk driving and serving of intoxicated individuals during the busy holiday season.

A proposal to allow bars and restaurants in Massachusetts to sell discounted drinks is on hold, according to its two backers.

Senators James Timilty (D-Walpole) and Robert Hedlund (R-Weymouth), who sponsored the so-called “Happy Hour” amendment, told the State House News Service they are recommending a conference committee spend the next year evaluating current alcohol regulations.

The amendment, passed in October, was attached to the bill that would legalize casinos in Massachusetts.

WWLP.com reports that Senator Robert Hedlund, a Republican from Hingham, is backing away from his Senate-passed casino amendment that proposes to return Happy Hour to Massachusetts. Instead, he’s suggesting that the Alcoholic Beverages Control Commission review its regulations on bars and restaurants and propose revisions.

Hedlund said the six-member casino bill conference committee tasked with consolidating the House and Senate versions of the expanded gaming bill can certainly make changes to his amendment.

The Hingham Republican’s change of tone comes after facing criticism from the public for supporting stronger drunk driving penalties and also discounted drinks in bars and restaurants.

Police in Foxboro, Mass. arrested a Taunton man who led them on an almost hour-long chase after fleeing the scene of a car crash along Route 495 Northbound last Friday evening.

50-year-old Howard Stockbridge was arrested and charged after rear-ending a Rhode Island man’s car on 495 North in Foxboro and then driving away from the scene.

Massachusetts State Police found Stockbridge almost an hour later walking through a parking lot along Route 106 and discovered he smelled of alcohol and “observed that his eyes appeared glassy.” Stockbridge told the arresting trooper he was coming from a nearby gym.

District Attorney Michael Morrissey hosted more than 150 educators and police from across Norfolk County at an all-day conference providing strategies to prevent and address underage drinking and other dangerous behavior, according to patch.com

“The time to address underage drinking is before it comes into court as an alcohol-fueled assault, or the car crash that takes a life or causes permanent injury,” said Morrissey.

To prevent alcohol sales to youths, the Allston-Brighton Substance Abuse Task Force recently hosted a retailer training for local liquor stores at St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center.

Representatives from 11 stores participated in the three-hour session led by Frank Connelly of the Cambridge Prevention Coalition, a community-based substance abuse prevention coalition.

Topics covered at the training included: best practices for preventing youth access to alcohol, information on state-of-the-art scanning technology to detect fake identification, and Massachusetts state law, among others. The following retailers participated:

Reuters reports that ignition devices that stop drivers from starting their vehicles if they are over the alcohol limit help prevent people convicted of driving under the influence from re-offending, according to a new study.

Re-arrest rates for alcohol-impaired driving decrease by 67 percent after the ignition interlocks are installed compared to drivers with suspended licenses, said the study by researchers at the Community Guide branch of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Around 200,000 vehicles in the United States are fitted with interlock devices that are used to prevent drunken driving by people convicted of such offenses.

The Associated Press reports that an alcohol-detection prototype that uses automatic sensors to instantly gauge a driver’s fitness to be on the road has the potential to save thousands of lives, but could be as long as a decade away from everyday use in cars, US federal officials and researchers said.

This week US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood visited QinetiQ North America, a Waltham, Massachusetts-based research and development facility, for the first public demonstration of systems that could measure whether a motorist has a blood alcohol content at or above the legal limit of .08 and — if so — prevent the vehicle from starting.

The technology is being designed as unobtrusive, unlike current alcohol ignition interlock systems often mandated by judges for convicted drunken drivers. Those require operators to blow into a breath-testing device before the car can operate.