Tweeting DUI Arrests Makes Riverside
Police Chief a MADD Hero

Not all Twitter users are announcing what they had for lunch or broadcasting the latest celebrity news. The Riverside, Illinois Police are tweeting every single alcohol-related arrest as it occurs. That includes DUI and zero tolerance arrests.
Riverside-IL-tweet-2
Police Chief Thomas Weitzel began this innovative use of social media in order to make the public aware of the scope of the drunk driving problem in Illinois. “I would hope that sharing of information in this way would serve to advise the public that DUI offenders are being arrested all over the greater Chicago area,” says Chief Weitzel.

Names are not used in the tweets — public shaming is not the point of the exercise. The tweets do include age, sex, hometown, location of the arrest, and the BAC (blood alcohol concentration), if available.

Riverside-IL-tweet-1The Twitter feed also announces the dates and locations of DUI checkpoints, and alerts the public when the department intensifies DUI patrols.

“Drunk driving is too socially acceptable,” says Weitzel. “I have noticed that it is becoming much more common for my agency to have second-, third-, fourth-time DUI arrestees who are already driving on a suspended license.”

Riverside-IL-tweet-3People are taking notice of the Riverside Police’s efforts. Weitzel recently received a Hero award from MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) for his work using social media to spread the anti-drunk driving message.

At LifeSafer we hope that people who read about so many DUI arrests will finally grasp the magnitude of Tom-Weitzel-wins-MADD-award2the problem, and join the fight to prevent drunk driving. This means educating teens, choosing a designated driver when going out drinking, and acting responsibly as a host and not letting guests drive home while impaired. Drunk drivers are stopped one by one, by people who are informed and committed to keeping the roads safer.

It’s a lot to ask of a tweet, but it’s good that every channel of communication is being used by our resourceful public servants to get the message out. We salute Chief Weitzel and urge other police departments to follow Riverside’s excellent example.

National Teen Driver Safety Week

Is there a younger driver in your life? This Week is National Teen Driver Safety Week, a nationwide campaign that encourages adults to connect with drivers 21 and under about safety issues.

National Teen Driver Safety WeekThis year NTSDW addresses the many drivers who delay getting their license until they are 18 or older, and there are more than you think. Some teens decide not to drive right away for economic reasons. Others – and their number is growing – just don’t feel they have a reason to start driving as soon as they come of age.

Delayed Licensing – Pros and Cons. Putting off driving has some advantages. With age comes maturity, and skipping the 16s and 17s means skipping years in which young people are likely to make poor decisions. Not driving also means more walking, bicycling, and public transport, all of which are healthier for the individual or the environment.

However, there are benefits to early licensing as well. High school Driver’s Ed programs can be very good. Young teens will also be supervised by their parents or other adults in their early driving lives. Graduated Driving License programs (GDL) give teens the chance to drive while placing restrictions on things like night driving and number and age of passengers – restrictions which help keep them safe as they test their “wings.”

And some teens who do not have licenses will make the incredibly bad decision to drive anyway.

If you are close to someone who has started driving after high school, encourage them to get the best training they can. It takes years to make a good driver of a novice, so they will need to create their own GDL in order to stay safe as their knowledge and reactions improve with experience.

The good news is, a later start can still be a very good start.

 

Surprising Study: A Lot of Designated
Drivers Are Drinking

Designate a Driver. Friends don’t let friends drive drunk. We’ve heard the slogans, seen the ads, heard the lectures. And at some level we get it: if you’re drunk, let someone else drive home.

Neknomination is spreading to the USABut who are you designating, exactly?

If it’s a sober friend – one who’s been nursing a soft drink while you party – congratulations: you’ve figured it out. But if it’s someone who’s just a little less drunk than you, then there’s a problem. And it’s a surprisingly prevalent problem.

A study last year in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs revealed some terrifying news: many so-called designated drivers are only marginally less whiskey-glass-transimpaired than the people they’re driving home.

The researchers interviewed more than a thousand bar patrons, mostly college students. They were sorted into passengers and designated drivers, and their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was measured via a breathalyzer.

The results: about 4 out of 10 designated drivers drank during the evening they were polled. Almost two in ten had a BAC of .05 or greater, and another two registered over .05 BAC. While a BAC of .08 is the standard of intoxication, it’s well known that someone who blows .05 has, in the words of the study, “inhibited driving ability and psychomotor function.” Even those between .02 and .05 are not in the best of shape to handle a carload of revelers and make responsible decisions about them.

The study concludes that there is a need to make public what some people have forgotten, or perhaps never learned: that a designated driver is one who has abstained from drinking entirely.

New LifeSafer Location:
Prestige Auto Mall, Cuyahoga Falls, OH

As the LifeSafer network expands to serve more drivers across the USA, we are delighted to welcome new providers who bring their expertise and dedication to the cause of safer roads. Today we welcome Prestige Auto Mall of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, which will be installing and monitoring LifeSafer ignition interlocks for customers in the Akron/Canton/Cleveland area.PrestigeAutoMallThough a new LifeSafer provider, Prestige Auto Mall is a well-known business dealership and auto service center, helping to put drivers on the road – and keep their vehicles ship-shape – in their facility just minutes from Akron. Prestige Auto Mall - LifeSafer ignition interlock providerPrestige sells and services all makes and models, and offers an impressive array of exotic vehicles as well, more than most dealerships ever lay eyes on. Lamborghinis, Porsches, Ferraris, Jaguars and Bentleys roll off the lot at regular intervals. There are also more conventional Benzes and BMWs, as well as Fords, Hondas, Buicks and many other makes.

LifeSafer customers will be placed in the careful hands of Prestige’s service department, which can handle thirteen vehicles simultaneously. The Mall employs six experienced technicians who are well versed in every aspect of auto care, not just ignition interlocks.

“We do everything from oil changes to engine swaps,” says Adam Snowberger, general manager of the Mall. Adam managed another LifeSafer provider before coming on board with Prestige, so he brings with him not just his expertise in car breathalyzer technology but a thorough understanding of the LifeSafer philosophy of customer care.

If you are in need of an ignition interlock in Cuyahoga Falls area, you’ll find five-star service is waiting for you at Prestige Auto Mall.

Your Hump-Day Recess:
He Got A DUI On A WHAT?

Here’s the rule: if it has wheels, someone will have too many drinks and then take off on it. The results are not always as funny as the newspaper headlines suggest.

We’ve covered some unusual DUI arrests in the past, most notably a snowmobile in summer.Tractor DUI

DUIs on tractors are standard in some parts of the country. The reason might be that tractor owners don’t consider their tractor a motor vehicle, but rather a farm implement (not that those should be used while impaired either).

The tractor’s little sister, the riding mower, also seems to draw pilots who have had a few too many. In fact, Pulaski County, Kentucky saw two lawnmower DUIs in one week recently.

In Virginia a man on a moped – that’s right, a moped – led the police on a chase.

Approaching the heights of absurdity, a man in Australia (the unusual vehicle DUIs invariably involve men, for whatever reason) was arrested for driving a motorized beer cooler drunk. One needs to question not only the driver’s judgement, but the reason for the vehicle’s existence in the first place.

And then there is the vehicle that is itself a punchline, the Segway. Norway finally legalized the two-wheel scooters, and had immediate reason to regret it.

If there is a lesson to be learned from all this, it’s that if you’re farming, or mowing, or moping, or scooting, don’t drink.

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: car safety, animals, posters. traffic jams, more posters, fake microbrews a German Ignition Interlock spoof from 1960, a Star Wars anti-drunk driving messageour 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 and a Cool 1950s Soviet Anti Drunk Driving Poster.

 

I Have a DUI. Can They Install An
Ignition Interlock On My Motorcycle?

If you ride a motorcycle, you are subject to the same driving laws as car drivers. This means that riders who are convicted of driving while impaired face the same penalties as car and truck drivers. In some states, this includes an ignition interlock requirement.

MotorcycleAn ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking.

Not all states allow the installation of an ignition interlock on a motorcycle, but some do, including Oregon, Wisconsin, Idaho, and Nebraska.

A motorcycle ignition interlock is installed in much the same manner as a car device would be, wired into the ignition system. The driver must blow into the device to start the bike, and blow again for regular rolling re-tests. The interlock is usually mounted on the fairing where the driver has easy access to it for re-testing.

Please note if you are a motorcycle rider with a DUI: if your state does not allow an ignition interlock to be installed on a motorcycle, then you may not ride a motorcycle until your suspension is over. Riding without a license is a serious offense.

Needless to say, alcohol and motorcycles are a very dangerous mix. Every year more than 2,000 motorcyclists are killed on the road, and alcohol is a factor in about 4 out of 10 of those fatalities.

In addition to all the faculties needed for car driving, motorcyclists need to contend with other factors such as stability and gravity. Bikes are less likely to be seen by drivers than cars or trucks, and are much more sensitive to road conditions. Wet leaves, gravel or a torn piece of tire on the road, which a car might ignore, can be a life-endangering hazard even for a sober, experienced, motorcycle rider. Alcohol reduces a rider’s ability to cope with all these extra hazards, making a crash all the more likely. And as statistics show, most motorcycle crashes result in injury or death.

So if you have a DUI and are in a state that allows ignition interlocks on your motorcycle, have it installed and you can get back on the road. If your state does not allow the devices on bikes, you’ll need to drive an interlock-equipped car for the duration of your suspension. In either case you’ll be avoiding the potentially deadly alcohol/motorcycle mix, and that’s a good thing.

What Really Happens If I Fail My
Ignition Interlock Breath Test?

Stress-and-DrivingIf you are going to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed in your car, you might be worried about what can happen if you fail the breath test, i.e. if you blow an alcohol reading above the designated level.

What does happen after a fail depends on a couple of things — mainly, why you fail and when you fail. The important thing is not to panic. If you have not been drinking, you will be able to get back on the road and get on with your day.

Why you fail. You can fail an IID breath test for one of several reasons. It might be that you used an alcohol-based mouthwash, or fermentation has turned a bit of fruit juice in your mouth to alcohol. Even the fermentation of yeast in bread or pizza dough could supply an alcohol molecule or two, could be enough to cause a fail. It might also be that you were drinking the night before, and there is some residual alcohol in your system.

When you fail. There are two different times you will take a test on an ignition interlock:

  • the initial test, performed when you start the car, and
  • the rolling re-test, which is done a few minutes after you begin driving and periodically thereafter

Lifesafer ignition interlock rolling re-tetIf you fail the initial test, your vehicle won’t start. You must wait a designated time — called the lockout period — before testing again. The lockout periods vary by state. In Washington State, for example, if you fail your initial test you can blow again in 5 minutes. If you fail that one, you must wait 15 minutes. After that, the lockout periods are 45 minutes and 24 hours.

If you failed your initial test because of something you ate, just wash out your mouth and re-test. If you were drinking the night before, you need to wait until all the alcohol has dissipated from your system. It’s hard to calculate how long this takes, which is why it is recommended that you not drink any alcohol while an interlock is installed on your vehicle. Of course, if you were drinking prior to your initial test, you should not drive. Wait until you are fully sober.

The procedure is different if you fail a rolling re-test. If you blow a fail while driving, you must pull over as soon as possible and shut off the ignition. After 5 minutes, you will be asked to perform an initial test and start the car again.

Note: failing a rolling re-test puts your ignition interlock into Early Service Recall mode. You must take your vehicle to your service center to have it reset and have data downloaded.

A failed test on an ignition interlock is not the end of the world. Just remember to keep calm and follow the above procedures, and you’ll be back on the road in no time.

Two Faces, Two Tragedies.
When Will There Be Two Laws?

You might have seen the faces in the news lately. There are two of them: one is a young girl, the other a grown woman. Both of these people have laws named after them.

emma-longstreet

Emma Longstreet

Annie Rooney of Annie's Law, requiring ignition interlock devices

Annie Rooney

But only one of those laws has passed.

The young girl is Emma Longstreet, who was killed at the age of six in South Carolina by a drunk driver on New Year’s Day in 2012. After much work by her parents, MADD, and other dedicated advocates, Emma’s law was passed, requiring all drivers with DUI convictions to have an ignition interlock installed in their vehicles. An ignition interlock, or car breathalyzer, prevents a vehicle from starting if the driver has been drinking. Emma’s Law has taken effect, and will soon be reducing the toll of alcohol-related road deaths in the state.

The woman is Annie Rooney, an Ohio attorney. She was also tragically killed by a drunk driver. It happened in 2013; she was 36. Annie’s Law, proposed this year, would do much the same as Emma’s Law did in South Carolina – it would mandate ignition interlocks for all DUI offenders. Current Ohio law requires ignition interlocks only for repeat offenders.

Why first-time interlock laws? Statistics show that states that require ignition interlocks for all offenders experience an immediate drop in alcohol-related road fatalities. That is the reason that South Carolina passed Emma’s Law, and why about half the states in the US currently have all-offender ignition interlock laws. The Ohio legislature, however, is dragging its feet on the bill. Neither the advice of the Centers for Disease Control, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or the National Traffic Safety Board are enough to persuade them that this bill is worth passing.

The faces here represent just two victims among the thousands killed and injured in alcohol-related crashes every year. If Ohio’s legislators don’t care about statistics, perhaps they’ll look at the faces, and then do the right thing: pass Annie’s Law.

Need a Ride Home? Just Call #TAXI.

If you have been out partying and need a ride home, a taxi is a lot closer than you think. Just call #TAXI to book the next available cab.

taxi-logoYou might not be aware of #TAXI, a service that is available on virtually every mobile phone in the US and Canada. All of the major mobile networks offer it.

Unlike rideshare companies like Uber and Lyft, #TAXI uses existing local taxi companies,  so it’s available not just in major cities but in any town, city or suburb with dispatched cabs. The service was started more than 10 years ago by CellWand of Toronto, Canada.

taxi-posterThe cost of a #TAXI call is comparable with directory assistance – about $1.50 to $2.50 – though right now the service is free on Verizon and AT&T in the States.

Reliable ratings. There is a big advantage to having the customer pay for the call. CellWand, which offers #TAXI, takes no money or incentives from taxi companies. Instead, they research the fleets’ quality of service and response time, and offer customers the best option in each area. “We always recommend the best,” says Nick Quain, President of CellWand. “There’s no way to buy your way to the front of the line. It’s a meritocracy.”

Low profile. With immediate access everywhere on every phone, reliable recommendations, and no membership signup or fees, why isn’t #TAXI better known? Unlike rideshare companies, #TAXI hasn’t been involved in viral controversies. And telephone technology isn’t inherently sexy, just dependable.

But in fact, #TAXI has been used by hundreds of thousands of people in the US, and millions in Canada. It was started with two audiences in mind:

  • Those who were out drinking and who could not legally drive home, and
  • Those, particularly women, who were in unfamiliar territory and did not know local cab companies

#TAXI has an app available on its website, and has offered apps in partnership with Guinness, Captain Morgan, and Bud Light, among other companies, as a part of their efforts to promote responsible drinking. CellWand is also coming out with an app that will enable you to track your cab en route to you, in the manner of the rideshare companies.

But in the meantime, all you need is your keypad. Five digits, and you’re home.

Your Hump-Day Recess: 1950s Soviet Anti Drunk Driving Poster

“Attention Drivers,” says this Soviet-era poster. “Alcohol dulls vigilance and leads to emergencies and human victims.”

soviet-poster

The anti drunk driving poster, from the 1950s, was one of many that the government issued in an attempt to deal with an alcohol problem that plagued Soviet society. The alcohol in question is, of course, vodka.

Drinking has a long history in Russia; Ivan the Terrible began using liquor as a revenue generator for the government back in the 16th Century, and the tradition took hold and never died in the country. The Soviets attempted to deal with alcoholism almost as soon as they came into power in 1917. However, the government could never kick its addiction to the money that a state monopoly on vodka brought in.

Forbes Magazine rated Russia the most dangerous country to drive in, in part because of poor enforcement of drunk driving laws. Ultimately, it takes more than cool posters to change a drinking culture.

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: car safety, animals, posters. traffic jams, more posters, fake microbrews a German Ignition Interlock spoof from 1960, a Star Wars anti-drunk driving messageour Top 10 Worst Crash Tests, a different kind of Anti-DUI message, Budweiser’s dogged anti-DUI campaign, and How Not to Dodge a Parking Ticket.