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Because of the scope and severity of the problem of DWI/DUI in the United States, it is vital that the most effective forms of intervention are identified and implemented systematically. Millions of dollars have been allocated to researching how the problems of DWI/DUI may be managed. Law enforcement, courts, social services, and medical care systems for physical and mental health are continuously assessing what mechanisms of intervention have the highest success rates, and have the longest impact on DWI/DUI offenders. Research suggests that the best strategy for intervention—the best way to prevent repeat offenders of DWI/DUI—is a multi-component program of medical and psychological treatments and legal penalties and sanctions.
Most of us have seen public service announcements, or experienced in our own lives the courageous and thoughtful individual who emerges in a social situation to prevent a friend from driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This personal tactic has consistently been a feature of educational programs to prevent DWI/DUI. That the social pressure of an intervening friend or acquaintance has considerable impact on individuals’ decisions to forego risky and illegal behavior leads researchers to ask about the exact communication strategies and characteristics of the intervening agent him/herself. What messaging does an intervening person rely on to dissuade someone from driving under the influence? What kind of person, what type of friend, is statistically most successful in persuading someone? Responding to these questions, researchers aim to provide guidelines for effective public health and safety campaigns.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota Center for Transportation Studies’ Roadway Safety Institute have developed methods for identifying and studying alcohol-related crash hot spots. The initiative focuses on spatial autocorrelation and interpolation, basically aggregating data about the locations where crashes are statistically likely to occur. The objective of the project is to facilitate effective patrolling, safety enforcement, and public awareness campaigns. The report notes,
“Mapping crash locations allows for a visual identification of high impact locations, trends, and outliers. This visual identification follows the goal of Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety (DDACTS), set out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), which is to develop a data driven approach to identify geospatial areas with higher crash and crime problem areas (US DOT, 2009).”
“This method guides officers to statistically significant locations where intoxicated drivers are most likely to be, allowing officers to be more accurate while patrolling. Additionally, this method allows officers to pass through more alcohol-related crash locations per minute and mile than current patrolling practices. By improving how officers patrol, individuals may be deterred from driving while intoxicated, and alcohol-related crashes may be ultimately reduced.”
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