No Taxis? No Uber? No Problem: One New Mexico Town Fights Drunk Driving with a Bus.

Call a taxi. Summon Uber with your smartphone. Hop a city bus or a subway train. All good ways to avoid a DWI – if they’re available where you live.

New Mexico Bus Fights Drunk DrivingWhat if you’re in a tiny rural town in New Mexico, with a population of ten thousand, and nary a taxi in sight? Your options are limited.

One town has figured out an answer. Silver City, New Mexico offers weekend partiers the Corre Cantinas bus, a shuttle that will ferry drinkers home from a big night out safely. The cost: $3.50 per person each way.

The county subsidizes the cost of the buses, which have reduced the number of alcohol-related crashes on days that it operates. Unfortunately, it’s only available on weekends, but the reduction in crashes – and fatalities – speaks for itself.

Corre Cantinas is a reminder that a functioning mass transport system – even one that only operates two nights a week – is one of the most effective protections against drunk driving.  The important point is that the alternatives have to be easily available, reasonably priced, and top-of-mind (because people who have been drinking often aren’t thinking clearly). It helps that the service has been going for ten years, and is well-known (locals call it the “drunk bus”).

Should more small towns adopt Silver City’s idea? We can’t think of a wiser use of public funds.

Is Stopping Drunk Drivers a Waste of Police Officers’ Time?

Recently a drunk driver hit the news in Pennsylvania, not because of what she did but because of what she said. Having been pulled over for speeding and then slamming
on the brakes – a standard indicator that police use to spot intoxicated drivers – the woman told her arresting officers, “You all (are) rookies. Go take care of someone that’s getting robbed and do your job by keeping people from getting murdered.”

Police-Patrol-DUIThe implication is that the DUI arrest was a distraction from real police work – arresting robbers and murderers.

We probably shouldn’t put too much stock in what a drunk driver says to her arresting officer, but it’s true that some people think that stopping drunk drivers should not be a priority for law enforcement. Impaired or not, a good number of drivers who are detained under suspicion of DUI, or at a DUI checkpoint, think they are being picked on, and that the police are wasting time. Presumably they should be out preventing murders.

But consider this: in 2013 (a year for which stats are easily available), there were 594 murders in Pennsylvania, and 1208 road fatalites. And while less than 400 of those were due to drinking, there were more than 11,000 alcohol-related vehicle crashes in Pennsylvania in that year. Crashes in which alcohol are involved are almost five times more likely to result in death than crashes in which alcohol is not a factor.

Still think stopping drunk drivers is a waste of police time?

Finally, we must note that death and injury resulting from drunk driving is completely preventable, and the efforts of organizations, educators and the police have helped bring down the numbers dramatically. The use of ignition interlocks, which prevent a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking, has also helped reduce recidivism. It’s hard to think of public initiatives that can cut down the rates of other crimes so drastically.

So the police are doing the right thing by arresting drunk drivers. And if this still bothers you, there’s an easy way to avoid the whole issue: drink, or drive, but never do both.

Welcome to LifeSafer: La Grande Stereo and Music, La Grande Oregon

A Full Array of Car and Home Stereo, and Ignition Interlocks, at La Grande Stereo and MusicWhen you pull up to La Grande Stereo and Music, it’s clear that your sound needs will be taken care of. Not only do they offer a full line of home and car audio and home theater, they also sell an array of guitars, musical instruments, and accessories. And they are now the most recent addition to the LifeSafer family of ignition interlock providers.

La Grande has been serving motorists since the mid-1970s. A family business, La Grande serves the town of that name, and also surrounding towns in the northeast corner of the state, including Pendleton and Baker.

They offer installation, monitoring, servicing and training on LifeSafer ignition interlocks – everything you need to get up and running quickly, legally, and safely. With 4 bays and two technicians on duty at all times, they can get you in and out efficiently.

Need an Interlock? Whatever model of car you have, La Grande Stereo and Music will handle it.What makes La Grande special? Kris Mallory, son of proprietor Mike Mallory, says, “This is a family business. When you’ve been operating for 40 years in a town of 12,000, you have to be dedicated to people.

If you need an ignition interlock i La Grande Oregon – or some strings for your Fender Stratocaster – La Grande Stereo and Music will take care of you. You’ll find them at 111 Fir Street, in the “biggest building in La Grande.”

Looking to install an ignition interlock in La Grande Oregon? Call 888-855-0630 or go here to book your appointment at La Grande Stereo and Music. That’s all you need to know to be back behind the wheel.

Your Hump-Day Recess: More Soviet Anti Drunk Driving Posters

Soviet Anti Drunk Driving Poster: "The Price of a Glass"

“The Price of a Glass”

Russia’s relationship to alcohol is a curious one. The government instituted prohibition in 1914, yet alcoholism remained rampant. Eventually the state took over production of alcohol, even as it promoted temperance. It wasn’t until Khruschchev that a real struggle against alcohol and drunk driving began in the late 1950s, with limited success. Then Mikhail Gorbachev made the issue of alcoholism the government’s first priority. In addition to restricting the amount of alcohol sold and the times and places it could  be consumed, the Soviet government used one of its favorite media – the propaganda poster – to get across the idea that drinking and driving were harming society, commerce, and the country in general.

Soviet anti drunk driving poster: "Drunkenness - No!"

“Drunkenness – No!”

Alas, the campaign was a bust. In fact, one of its unexpected effects was a serious shortage of sugar, since illicit home distillers needed it to make moonshine. Drinking continued, and so did drunk driving.

Soviet anti drunk driving poster: "Don't Drink!"

“Don’t Drink!”

The standard approaches to the offense – license suspension, jail, and fines – do not work well, since drinking is so entrenched in the culture. Perhaps it’s time to introduce the ignition interlock to Russia and the other former Soviet republics.

What remains of Gorbachev’s good intentions are the posters, fine examples of Soviet graphic design that were asked to do a job that no poster could do on its own.

Your Hump Day Recess: Every Wednesday LifeSafer brings you something a little different, related to the worlds of road safety, to ease your progress over Hump Day and through the week.
Previous Hump Days: a German Ignition Interlock spoof from 1960, our Top 10 Worst Crash Tests, a different kind of Anti-DUI message, Budweiser’s dogged anti-DUI campaign, How Not to Dodge a Parking Ticket, the world’s worst traffic jams, a dramatic buzzed driving PSA , an offbeat ad from New Zealand, the world’s worst car modification, Vince and Larry, our favorite crash test dummies, a karaoke microphone breathalyzer, and extraterrestrial advice on drunk driving

Maryland State Police Are On Board – Ignition Interlocks Save Lives

Maryland-State-Police-Support-InterlocksWe are used to seeing the families of drunk driving crash victims speak out for stronger ignition interlock laws. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Public safety advocates like Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) have been vocal advocates of interlocks as well. In Maryland both victims’ families and MADD have testified in favor of new bills in the House and Senate which would require car breathalyzers for all DUI offenders. This measure is known to reduce alcohol-related road deaths.

Another group who are not often heard from, but who also tend to support the devices, are law enforcement personnel. Maryland State Troopers are behind House Bill 423 and Senate Bill 212. Senior Trooper William Talbert recently testified to the judiciary committee on the effectiveness of interlocks.

two-ways-to-stop-drunk-driverThere are only two ways to stop a drunk driver: with a police car, or an ignition interlock. The latter leave the police free to do other important work. A lot of police resources are spent dealing with repeat drunk drivers.

As long as a first offender has an interlock installed, he or she will not become a second offender.  The other alternative – license suspension – works poorly. Troopers regularly arrests motorists who have ignored their suspension, and sometimes they are drunk as well. Those who obey the suspension are often burdened with unnecessary hardships.

The International Association of Chiefs of Police has supported ignition interlocks since 2007. Now it’s up to the Maryland legislature to pass this much-needed road safety bill.




Does cheap liquor kill?

When Illinois raised its alcohol taxes, road deaths went down. It’s that simple.

cheap-booze-killsSo says a study in the American Journal of Public Health. The study, by a team of researchers at the University of Florida,  noted that after an increase in tax on beer, wine and spirits in 2009, alcohol-related motor vehicle crashes dropped 26 percent. For young drivers, the decrease was an impressive 37 percent.

The researcher’s conclusion: if taxes were raised nationwide, thousands of lives could be saved each year.

This revelation won’t startle people who have been following the research. For years the link between increased taxes on alcohol and reduced consumption – and corresponding reduced alcoholism and health effects – has been known.

This study, however, links the rise in taxes directly to road deaths.

So how influential are liquor prices on alcohol consumption, and resultant traffic disasters?

Consider this: a study in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine found that an extremely heavy drinker – one consuming 10 drinks a day – would use up half his or her income in 1950. Today, that drinker would need only 3% of his or her salary. That means the economic incentive for changing drinking habits is effectively gone. Taxes are the only way to compensate for an all-you-can-drink alcohol market. And taxes have not kept up with inflation.

If the evidence that higher alcohol taxes are a social good is mounting, where are the objections coming from?

Predictably, the alcohol industry doesn’t accept the conclusions. The Distilled Spirits Council of the US points out that “alcohol abusers are not deterred by higher prices.  It is the moderate, responsible consumers who are most sensitive to prices …”

Once again, the booze industry publicizes the myth that there are just two types of drinkers: “hard core,” whose behavior is unchangeable, and the “moderates,” who suffer when laws come down on the first group. In fact, alcohol abuse is a complex social problem which can be affected by many policies and actions.

We know that low alcohol prices help no one but the alcohol industry. They attract young drinkers, harm public health, and – we now know – cause death on the roads.

1 in 10 Drunk Driving Deaths Occur in Texas. Over to You, Legislature.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), who keep track of such things, tell us that 1 in 10 road deaths due to alcohol happen in the state of Texas. Proud of its tradition as an outlier and forerunner in so many fields, Texas also has the misfortune to lead the country in this insane race to the graveyard.

Texas-DUI-DeathsLet’s clarify: In 2013 Texas had 1,337 road deaths due to alcohol. In the same year, California, whose population is more than 40 percent larger, had 1,025.

Texas’s statistic on total alcohol related crashes is similarly perplexing: 25,479 that same year. Handling the fatalities alone cost the state more than $6 billion.

As we’ve noted before, a bill has been proposed which will help Texas join the many states – twenty-four of them, with more debating similar measures – who require ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

As always, there is some resistance to the proposal. Some of it comes from well-intentioned people who consider the interlock a too-harsh “punishment” for a first DUI offense. In fact, first DUI offenders are rarely first-time drunk drivers: statistics show that a person arrested for DUI has already driven impaired an average of 80 times.

The interlock device, moreover, is easily gotten used to, and is not punitive provided you don’t drink and drive.

What ignition interlocks do is reduce drunk driving recidivism. Texas’s neighbors to the west, New Mexico and Arizona, saw immense reductions in drunk driving fatalities after passing all-offender DUI laws. The same would happen in Texas, on a much larger scale.

Probably no state is as immediately associated with the word “pride” as Texas is. The state legislature has a chance to pass House Bill 2246, which prevents drunk drivers from re-offending, and thus will, in one swoop, make the state a much safer place to drive.

Note to Texas: the eyes of the country are upon you.

New LifeSafer Ignition Interlock provider: Lube Plus of Colfax Washington

Lube Plus in Colfax Washington will provide your ignition interlockIn the green hill country of southeastern Washington state discriminating motorists take their cars and trucks to the auto experts: Lube Plus in Colfax Washington. Now this respected local business will handle all of your LifeSafer ignition interlock needs as well. We are delighted to welcome Lube Plus as our most recent interlock provider.

Located on Main Street just across from the post office, Lube Plus offers full automotive repair service. You can come to Lube Plus for engine work, brakes, electrical and just about everything else. The proprietor, James Berdal, is double-certified for gas and diesel engines, so you’ll be in good hands no matter what you drive. There are two bays and two top-flight technicians to keep customers rolling.

Lube Plus serves customers from a wide area which includes Spokane, Pullman, Lacrosse, and Rosalia.

Looking to install an ignition interlock in Colfax Washington? Call 888-855-0630 or go here to book your appointment at Lube Plus. Lube Plus is a one-stop shop for all your auto needs, including courteous, confidential and efficient interlock service. Call them and you’ll be back on the road before you know it.

Your Hump-Day Recess:
Extraterrestrial Advice on Drunk Driving

Some drunk driving ads are evergreen in their appeal, and others are of their time. This public service ad from Coors is one of the latter. A lot of people will recognize the fellow behind the bar as the title character from the movie “E.T.” The movie was a hit – in fact, it held the box office record for ten years. However, these days the catchphrase “E.T. phone home” is not heard as often as, say, “Go ahead – make my day.”

In 1982 the message would have resonated, however: MADD’s efforts against drunk driving had been underway for two years, and lenient laws were gradually being revised. In any case, it’s still the right message for anyone who’s had a few too many beers, on this planet or any other.

Note: for another, older and somewhat weirder sci-fi take on drunk driving, go here.


Your Hump Day Recess: Every Wednesday LifeSafer brings you something a little different, related to the worlds of road safety, to ease your progress over Hump Day and through the week.
Previous Hump Days: a German Ignition Interlock spoof from 1960, our Top 10 Worst Crash Tests, a different kind of Anti-DUI message, Budweiser’s dogged anti-DUI campaign, How Not to Dodge a Parking Ticket, the world’s worst traffic jams, a dramatic buzzed driving PSA , an offbeat ad from New Zealand, the world’s worst car modification, Vince and Larry, our favorite crash test dummies, and a karaoke microphone breathalyzer

Great Idea in Illinois: Exchange Hard Suspensions for Ignition Interlocks.

Ignition Interlocks are better than suspensionsDespite years of evidence that it is not effective, states continue to suspend the licenses of DUI offenders for long periods of time. For Illinois, the minimum is 30 days. Recently the state has taken a hard look at why this law – called the hard-time rule – doesn’t work.

One reason is common to all states: people tend to drive even though their license is suspended. Some studies put the figure as high as 75 percent. Moreover, those drivers are uninsured due to their suspension, and might be impaired if their DUI was the result of a real drinking problem.

The other reason is an Illinois specialty. In a number of suburban courtrooms, prosecutors are cutting deals with DUI attorneys to reduce charges so the offender avoids suspension.

As a result, the state collects sizeable fines, and DUI attorneys make fees as well. But as at least one DUI lawyer points out, it’s more complicated than a mere money grab: the situation is, in part, a logical response to the outmoded law itself. The hard-time suspension does no one any good, and can ruin lives.

At any rate, it’s clear the public loses either way. Neither the hard-time suspension nor reduced charges with fines helps take dangerous drunk drivers off the road.

The Illinois State Bar Association has proposed getting rid of the hard-time rule, allowing offenders to install an ignition interlock in their vehicles instead of suspension. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. As a solution, it’s more practical and sophisticated than the hard-time rule, a decades-old relic of an era when it was thought that letting drunk drivers sit at home for 30 days and think about they did would bring them to their senses.

Apart from the Bar Association, road safety organizations such as Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists and MADD support the change. We hope to see the state of Illinois move forward and embrace laws and technology that have been proven to make the roads safer.