Arrests for impaired driving are up in Raleigh, NC. And that is a good thing.
The increase in arrests – more than 50 percent – is due to greater vigilance, and not a sudden epidemic of drinking and driving. A federally-funded police unit made more than 2,800 arrests in 2014, more than 1000 more than the previous year.
While those arrests are bad news for the offenders, the statistics are cause for optimism on the part of the general public. The number of fatal alcohol-related crashes in Raleigh went from 27 in 2013 to just 10.
One initiative is not proof that increased arrests prevent road deaths, but the evidence is mounting. Recently the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation examined 30 different communities and did the math. The findings: more traffic stops by police resulted in less drinking and driving.
It’s not hard to see why: when citizens see that the police are out in force, arresting impaired drivers, they are less likely to take the risk of an arrest themselves.
While drunk driving remains a tough problem, several solutions are known to help prevent alcohol-related road incidents:
- High-visibility law enforcement to ensure that everyone is aware that drunk drivers are likely to be caught.
- Ignition interlocks for all DWI offenders. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. States which require interlocks for all drunk drivers, including first offenders, see a dramatic decrease in alcohol-related fatalities.
- More support for designated drivers. Many cities run their own designated driver program, and we’ve seen events at which DD’s were given special discounts.
These solutions are available now. Raleigh has had good success with the first one, and there’s no reason that attention to the others wouldn’t bring even better results. Our hats off to the Raleigh police for taking this important issue so seriously, and producing results we can learn from.