Drunk driving has been a major concern of cities and counties all over the country, with many traffic violations being alcohol related in one way or another. This is the primary reason why the government is now extending its efforts in finding effective ways to lessen, if not eliminate, the cause of so many deaths on the road each year. In an effort to confront these issues, the Texas Department of Transportation is sponsoring the development of a curriculum on alcohol ignition interlocks with the purpose of educating probation officers on issues and violations associated with alcohol related driving and the benefits of ignition interlock devices.
Around 50% of individuals who are under probation in Texas are there due to alcohol and drug offenses. In conjunction with that, previous endeavors have shown a lack of knowledge among adult probation officers regarding how drugs or alcohol can affect driving performance, as well as a lack of formal training when it comes to ignition interlock devices.
In 2011, preparations began to develop a course on alcohol/ignition interlock sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation and tailored for the adult probation offices in order to help them deal properly with probationers convicted of alcohol related issues. A survey was created and distributed amongst 76 probation officers in two counties in Texas with the purpose of determining experience, general knowledge as well as beliefs regarding ignition interlocks.
When the surveys were analyzed, it was discovered that a majority of the adult probation personnel deemed that they had insufficient knowledge when it came to ignition interlock devices. In fact, 83% of the respondents stated that it will be of great help to have a short program on ignition interlock education developed especially for the probation officers.
Based on these survey results, the Texas Department of Transportation with the Texas Transportation Institute began working to develop training sessions meant specifically for the probation officers. This project is currently being conducted in Bryan, Conroe, and Houston with the definitive goal of bringing this training to the rest of the state so that all of the probation officers in Texas will all be better equipped and aided in carrying out their job. Educational program like this that teach the benefits of ignition interlock devices can only help increase the effectiveness of ignition interlock programs, and ultimately reduce the impact of impaired driving making the roads safer for all of us.