Spotlight: Enforcement Matters

During the 1980s and 1990s, important

progress was made toward reducing serious crashes and deaths involving

drivers under the influence of alcohol. According to a recent publication

by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), worldwide

progress has stalled and hasn’t revived. Making further progress

will require new ways of thinking about existing countermeasures

and incorporating new technology. To read IIHS’s special Status

Report on the alcohol-impaired driving problem worldwide and what

to do about it, click on

A joint study by researchers at the University of Florida and

the University of Minnesota indicates that the greatest deterrent

to sale of alcohol to minors is regular police enforcement of

liquor laws within licensed establishments. Results of the 5-year

national study show that consistent, regular enforcement is necessary

to deter alcohol sales to minors. The results of the study appear

in the March 2005 edition of Addiction. To view the abstract,

click on

The June 10, 2004 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR)

(Vol. 53:21, pp. 452-454) contains an analysis of a Concord,

New Hampshire, enforcement campaign. The program has three

components: quarterly compliance checks from 2002 to 2004, increased

penalties for noncompliance, and media coverage of the enforcement

campaign. The campaign resulted in a 64 percent reduction in retail

alcohol sales to underage youths and was associated with declines

in alcohol use and binge drinking among Concord high school students.

The full MMWR report is at

Research results released by the Pacific Institute for Research

and Evaluation show that if law enforcement agencies used sobriety

checkpoints more often and more effectively, deaths and crashes

caused by drunk driving could be reduced by 20 percent. The study

discusses how to improve the use of checkpoints (e.g., increase

publicity in local media, conduct checkpoints more often such as

weekly, deploy fewer officers at checkpoints, and use passive alcohol

sensors, which can be installed in flashlights). The report was

published in the September 2004 issue of Traffic Injury Prevention.

For more information, see


Spotlight: Enforcement Matters
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