Why Are DUI Crashes Being Faked All Over the US?

They happen all year round, but spring sees them the most. A wrecked car is placed at the side of a road, or in a parking lot. Shattered glass covers the ground. A girl or boy is lying by the car, motionless, sometimes covered in fake blood. Another teen appears unconscious inside the car, a limp hand hanging out of the window. One recently took place at Sycamore High School in Illinois.

Mock DUI crashes are being staged all over the US

Paramedics rush to the scene and try to revive the teenagers. A police car drives up, sirens blaring, lights flashing. In Waco, Texas the program was called Shattered Dreams.

The scene is disturbing, so much so that some kids have a hard time looking at it. Their school friends are lying bleeding on the ground; an EMT dresses a wound and administers oxygen. Occasionally they zip a kid into a body bag and cart it away on a gurney.

The principal of a Burbank, California school recently announced that a student died in a drunk driving crash. It wasn’t true, but the words must have caused a shudder or two in the corridors.

Why spend time staging a mock DUI crash? Because high school students don’t think much about danger . They tend to regard themselves as invincible, and they also are more likely to drink and drive than most age groups.  That’s a lethal combination. These simulations are staged to make real the idea of a crash to teens who don’t take it seriously. Humans are visual creatures; seeing bodies, twisted cars, ambulances and paramedics bring home the fact that drunk driving can lead to the ultimate tragedy.

Students at Meridian High School in Michigan know that now; so do ones at Pueblo West High in Colorado, Terryville High School in Connecticut, and Monroe High School in Washington State. As prom season turns into graduation season, schools and parents are worried about the consequences of their kids drunk driving.  These mock DUI crash demonstrations are designed to make an impression in a way that lectures can’t.

Mock collisions are elaborate, expensive, and difficult to set up, but those who see them never forget the image of their friends lying in the road. And it’s an image that is much better seen in a mock demonstration than in reality. Our thanks to the schools, road safety organizations, police departments, and service personnel who make these demonstrations possible.  Perhaps one day the message will finally take hold on a large scale, and real alcohol-related crashes will be rarer than the staged ones you see here.

Location Spotlight: LC Interlock Gets You Rolling in Clarkston Washington

LC-Interlock-Clarkston-WA-ignition-interlock-providerIf you’re so far east in Washington that you’re almost in Idaho, there’s a shop waiting to take care of all your ignition interlock needs. LC Interlock in Clarkston is equipped and ready to install your interlock device and get you back on the road safely and legally.

LC Interlock’s technician Kevin Boswell is an expert in automotive electronics systems, with 18 years’ experience in installing and serving ignition interlocks. The shop offers installation, training, monitoring, and calibration. They’ll also be happy to answer all your questions so you can take to the wheel with confidence.

Clarkston is the location, but motorists from Asotin, Pomeroy, Uniontown, Colfax, and Pullman rely on LC for first-class service. You’ll find them on Highway 12 at 10th and Bridge street – look for Wizard Auto Electric.

If you’re looking to install an ignition interlock in Clarkston Washington, call 888-855-0630 or go here to book your appointment at LC Interlock.

Your Hump Day Recess: Woman Calls 911, Reports Herself for DUI

Yes, it really happened back in 2009. We’d like to say we’re surprised it happened in Wisconsin, but when you make a point of going easy on drunk drivers, you’re going to end up with some pretty strange things happening on the road.

In this, a  woman named Mary called up Clark County 911 to report a drunk driver. The conversation went like this:

Mary: Somebody’s really drunk driving down Granton Road…
Dispatcher: Okay are you behind them, or..
Mary: No, I am them.
Dispatcher: You am them?

A BBC television program (make that “programme”) called World’s Craziest Fools did an animation of the entire exchange – all 49 seconds of it.

The animation takes some liberties: in fact, Mary didn’t crash. She pulled over when the dispatcher asked her to, and a police officer dropped by to give her a breath test. She blew .17, twice the legal limit.

It would be satisfying to report that for such a dangerous offense, Mary had her license suspended, was ordered to have an alcohol assessment and treatment, and was required to have an ignition interlock on her car to prevent her from starting it when she’d been drinking. That’s very common for DUI offenders in most states.

However, this was Wisconsin, and it was a first offense. She got a ticket.

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, extraterrestrial advice on drunk driving, some excellent Soviet anti-drunk-driving posters. a lesson on how buzzed driving can ruin your love life, and South Australia to Drunk Drivers: Grow Up!

Michigan Celebrates a Drunk Driving Solution That Really Works: Sobriety Court

Not everyone was convinced it would work. After all, the best way to deal with drunk drivers is to take away their license, fine them, punish them, and warn them not to do it again. Right?

are sobriety courts the solution for drunk drivingApparently a number of Michigan counties thought better; they instead they instituted a Sobriety Court system. A sobriety court, DWI court, or treatment court is a non-traditional court that focuses on offenders with medical and social problems that lead to their run-ins with the judicial system. These can include drunk drivers, drug addicts, and people with post traumatic stress disorder.

The courts take a collaborative approach: a drunk driver might be supervised by an alcohol treatment professional, and would also be required to have an ignition interlock installed in his or her vehicle. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

The courts have been a success. Last Thursday a press event in Lansing highlighted the role of sobriety courts and ignition interlocks in reducing drunk driving. Another event was held in Kalamazoo, and a Wayne County judge announced his personal support for the program as well.

Why all the celebration? It’s because the ignition interlock/DWI court combination works! The benefits are many and compelling:

  • The supervision of the court ensures compliance with the interlock requirement. In non-supervised settings, a large percentage of offenders do not comply with the interlock order.
  • The interlock ensures that an offender retains driving privileges, and can therefore get to treatment.
  • The expense of incarceration is avoided.
  • Offenders can maintain or improve their employment situation, which would not be possible without the interlock and supervision.

sobriety courts and ignition interlock programs keep communities togetherAll in all, sobriety courts save money, strengthen communities rather than disrupt them, and reduce recidivism dramatically. They increase compliance with ignition interlock requirements, and increase completion of alcohol treatment programs. No program has a 1000 batting average, but sobriety courts are as close to a magic bullet as anything we’ve found so far.

Michigan is on to something, and they know it. It’s up to the other 49 states to read the reports and start instituting their own sobriety courts on a wider scale. The program is a winner for offenders, the state, and society at large.

LifeSafer Wishes You a Safe and Happy Memorial Day

Memorial Day weekend is almost over. If you’ve followed the advice of everyone who has your safety in mind, you’ve been driving safely and of course, unimpaired.

Today’s holiday commemorates those who gave their lives so that we could life our lives safe from harm. Please don’t throw away their sacrifice by taking risks on the road.

Happy Memorial Day.

Drive Safely This Memorial Day

Driving This Memorial Day? Here’s Something to Make You Stop and Think

Memorial Day Drivers Are Running Red LightsTraffic advisories are pretty common as Memorial Day approaches. We all know that the roads are crowded; in fact, this year the AAA predicts that more people than ever will be on the highways, driving at least 50 miles.

You might have been warned about the Fatal 4: the four driving practices that lead to the most highway deaths each memorial day:

  • Speeding
  • Not wearing seat belts
  • Impaired driving
  • Distracted driving

If you know all this, perhaps this is something you don’t know.  More red light violations occur on Memorial Day than any other day. Drivers are impatient to get to their holiday destinations, and are more likely to jump the gun at intersections. Crashes at intersections number in the millions each year, and about 20 percent of all traffic deaths occur at them.

Police everywhere will be on the lookout for people who are driving too fast or carelessly, and DUI patrols will be out. However, there is no way that police can guard every intersection, so if you are out and about this weekend, whether on a holiday trip or just driving to the store, take extra care at intersections. Stop and look, and look again.

And once you’re through the intersection, be extra vigilant this weekend. There are just too many drivers on the roads, and many are on unfamiliar roads. Cars are full of noisy families, which can distract drivers. Some drivers will be tired and inattentive, and some, of course, will have been drinking. They won’t be watching out for you, so you need to watch for them.

In short: don’t speed, buckle up, don’t drink and drive, rest if you’re tired, and stay focused on the road ahead. Those four things will enable you to have a good Memorial Day weekend and then get you safely into next week.

Have a safe holiday weekend.

California DUI Woman to Her Arresting Officer: Thank You!

It’s the same in real life as it is on the police dramas we see on television: people who are arrested say a lot of things to cops, but never “thank you.”

thank-arresting-officer-for-duiThe exception is Mariya Fair, a California mother who was arrested for DUI on New Year’s Eve.  After a crash at a stoplight, at which no one was injured, she was booked for DUI by Fontana Police Officer Wayne Blessinger. She had been taking pain pills and muscle relaxants for what was really depression.

Recently she returned to the station to thank Officer Blessinger for the arrest that changed her life. His concern for her led to her getting help and turning her life around. In a TV interview Fair eloquently called it a “badly wrapped gift.”

It’s not always apparent to people being arrested for DUI, but the mechanisms in place to prevent DUIs can benefit the drinker as well as society.

  • Quite often an arrest of an otherwise law-abiding person is a wake-up call that forces the offender to deal with a problem that has been around for some time.
  • DUI courts and mandatory alcohol assessment and treatment have helped many offenders understand and get control of a drinking problem.
  • Ignition interlocks, or car breathalyzers, which prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking, have  been found to be useful during rehab, when setbacks can often lead to impaired driving. Ignition interlock providers are sometimes thanked for their part in helping a drunk driver get back on the path of legal, safe driving.

Police, courts, and ignition interlock providers don’t expec t thanks from impaired drivers, but on occasion, someone realizes that we’re all the same side – that of public safety – and we get a hat tip. Our pleasure.

Your Hump-Day Recess: The $73,000 Bar Tab

A shock to the system can be an excellent reminder of what’s important in life. That’s why Bar Aurora and Boteca Ferraz,  the public-spirited nightspots in São Paolo, Brazil, decided to shock their patrons a few years ago with a bar tab that reflected not the price of the evening’s drinks, but the price of driving after drinking there.

And it appears that the price of drunk driving is high: thousands for ambulance transport, intensive care, facial reconstruction… it all ads up.

Hidden cameras captured the reactions of bargoers as they saw what their bill was – or rather, what it might have been had they decided to drive home.

The 2010 campaign, by Ogilvy & Mather Brasil, is another example of a trend to emphasize the problems that drunk driving can cause apart from the obvious one of injury and death. To see the faces of these customers as they view their total leaves no doubt that money is a strong motivator.

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, extraterrestrial advice on drunk driving, some excellent Soviet anti-drunk-driving posters. a lesson on how buzzed driving can ruin your love life, and a message to drunk drivers: grow up!

What Do You Get When You Let Your Unlicensed Teen Drive to Avoid a DUI? … A DUI.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. A Georgia couple decided they had drunk too much after a concert, so they had their 15-year-old daughter drive them home. The daughter had a learner’s permit, so they presumed that they were making the wisest decision.

Letting a child drive to avoid a DUI is just wrong.They presumed wrong. The girl struck a vehicle, and the father told her to keep driving rather than stop and deal with the matter.

When police tracked the family down through a license number, the father was arrested for DUI.

It might seem a strange call. After all, the father wasn’t driving. But Georgia law states that the supervisor of a learning driver must be capable of “exercising control of the vehicle.” Anyone who has been drinking is not capable of that control.

From time to time DUI arrests take place in which the one arrested was not driving at the time. A woman in Virginia got a DUI while in the back seat of a car.

A man in South Dakota wasn’t even in his truck, but he was drinking and bumped a gearshift, sending his vehicle rolling into a parked car.

In those cases, the issue was something called Physical Control, the idea that someone who is impaired and in control of a vehicle – even one that is parked – poses a danger and is thus guilty of a crime.

In this case the law was more specific: a supervising driver must be sober and ready to drive at any time. The father was charged with child endangerment as well as DUI.

The lesson here is to plan ahead. If you’re going to drink at a concert, have a designated driver (who is old enough to drive legally) or take public transportation. Desperate, poorly-considered last-minute ploys are a good way to end up with a DUI – or worse.

What are the Most Dangerous Days to be a Teenager? The Answer May Surprise You.

Prom and graduation night are occasions when teen drinking can get out of control

Memorial Day is when we warn drivers to be cautious on the crowded roads. We also point out Labor Day, New Year’s, even Cinco de Mayo – all are occasions when it’s a good idea to drive with an extra measure of care, if road accident statistics are to be believed.

But if you’re a teen, you have two days that stand out as more risky than most, and they’re not national holidays: prom and graduation.  They don’t make it into the lists of highest traffic fatalities because they don’t occur on specific dates, but take place on various weekends through May and June.

Nevertheless, you should know that about a third of all alcohol-related traffic deaths happen between April and June, when proms and graduations are in season. Little wonder: these two events combine end-of-school euphoria, social pressure, alcohol, and the bad judgement that teenagers are known for.

So, knowing that proms and graduations are risky times, what can a parent do to keep their teens safe?

  • Establish and discuss rules before the night. These include no drinking, curfew, and how they will be getting to and from prom, and which party they will go to.
  • Don’t rent hotel rooms or other out-of-home venues for prom or graduation parties.
  • Get together with parents and organize a non-alcoholic post-prom party.
  • Discuss frankly with your teen your concerns about drunk driving. In addition to being more likely to drive drunk, on prom and graduation night your teen will be more likely to ride with a friend who has been drinking. Let them know that neither option is allowed under any circumstances.
  • Make sure they know they can always get a taxi, a rideshare or a ride from you if they need it.
  • Impress on them that if a friend is about to drive drunk, they will be heroes if they take the keys away.

Contrary to what some students might think, alcohol is not a necessary part of a prom or graduation party. There’s plenty of fun to be had without it, and you’re the one who can teach that lesson to your son or daughter.