From 1980 to 1985 over 400 local chapters of citizens groups concerned with drinken driving were founded nationwide, media coverage of the drinken driving problem increased exponentially, and over 500 legislative changes were passed to reduce fatal crashes involving drunken drivers. The most common changes were increases in the legal drinking age and passage of per se legislation to increase convictions. Forty-nine states have now raised the age to 21 and over 30 states passed per se laws bringing the national total to over 40. Drinking age increases have generally been credited with 10 to 15% declines in fatal crashes in the targeted age groups, but effects are variable from state to state and many teens circumvent these laws by having others purchase alcohol for them or by purchasing from liquor outlets that do not ask for age identification. Per se laws have not been as extensively studied. International experience suggests these laws can produce short term fatal crash declines, but lack of police and court enforcement compromises long-term reduction in drunken driving and fatal crashes. In Maine a 1981 per se law produced initial fatal crash declines, particularly among young drivers. However, these outcomes were short-lived because the public did not perceive an increase in the likelihood that drunken drivers would be stopped by police. Also, police speed enforcement declined during the post-law period. Nationwide from 1980 to 1985 fatal crashes involving intoxicated drivers declined more than other fatal crashes especially among teenage drivers. Media attention to drunken driving, formation of new citizen groups concerned with the problem, and the numbers of new drunken driving laws passed peaked between 1983 and 1985. But from 1985 to 1986 alcohol related traffic fatalities increased 7% among all age groups and 14% among teenagers 15 to 17 years of age. Other traffic fatalities rose only 3%.

  • Corporate Authors:

    Brain Information Service

    California University, Center for Health Science
    Los Angeles, CA  United States  90024
  • Authors:
    • Hingson, R
    • HOWLAND, J
    • Morelock, S
    • Heeren, T
  • Publication Date: 1988-4

Media Info

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00490082
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • Report/Paper Numbers: HS-040 524
  • Created Date: Dec 31 1989 12:00AM