Industry initiatives to prevent drunk driving lack evidence of effectiveness

Industry initiatives to prevent drunk driving lack evidence of effectiveness

Alcohol affects the part of the brain that controls judgment, coordination and control, impacting a person’s cognitive and psychomotor skills. Binge drinking and continued alcohol use in large amounts, especially before driving, increases the chance of alcohol-related traffic deaths. However, a recent study by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has suggested that the steps taken by the alcohol industry to keep a check on drinking and driving either lack evidence of effectiveness or haven’t been studied at all.

The study, published in the American Journal of Public Health in February, 2016, reviewed corrective measures taken by the alcohol industry to reduce drinking and driving, and analyzed their effectiveness across the globe. Surprisingly, most of the 266 initiatives taken by the industry between 1982 and 2015 lacked a concrete base to prove effectiveness and the remaining were not studied in the first place.

For drivers under the age of 21, it is illegal to drive with any amount of alcohol in their blood. The law is applicable in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For legal age drinkers, the limit is 0.08 blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Mass media also plays a major role in reducing drunk driving by disseminating messages about the physical dangers and legal consequences of drunk driving. But the current study refutes these claims by saying that these measures are generally ineffective unless they are rigorously planned and executed, and used alongside other evidence-based interventions.

For the purpose of the study, the researchers reviewed an online database – focused on industry initiatives for reducing harmful drinking – provided by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking.

Some of the initiatives that are effective in checking drunk driving are sobriety checkpoints. Drunk Driving Laws have made the installation of sobriety checkpoints mandatory at various locations to allow police to stop vehicles to see if the driver is intoxicated. Another intervention that claims to achieve the highest effectiveness is the use of ignition interlocks that are installed in a vehicle to deter drinking and driving. The study found that these methods were only used 0.8 percent of the time, with approximately 42 percent lacking any proof of effectiveness and 56 percent not having been scientifically evaluated.

The study said that the programs funded by alcohol industry aim to protect public health and prevent drinking and driving, but despite their wide use, these aren’t effective and, in fact, enhance the marketing strategy of alcohol brands that sponsor such programs.

“Our findings suggest that almost none of the alcohol industry’s efforts to reduce drinking and driving were based on what scientific evidence has told us can work to improve public health,” says Adnan A. Hyder, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., lead author of the study and a professor in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School.

“The majority of industry initiatives are either ineffective or of unknown effectiveness; public health interventions are generally held to a higher standard,” says study co-author, David Jernigan, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Health, Behavior and Society at the Bloomberg School.

Path to recovery

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), driving under the influence of alcohol contributes to nearly 15 percent of road traffic deaths globally. While all states define driving with a BAC at or above 0.08 percent as a crime, specific laws and penalties vary substantially from state to state, according to 2016 Drunk Driving Laws. In the wake of rising alcohol-involved deaths and drunk driving, relevant strategies are needed to address this problem.

Numerous studies have suggested that no type of drink is better or worse than another; alcohol itself is harmful for the human body, regardless of whether it is in wine, beer or spirits. Like other substances, even alcohol can turn into an addiction and create a havoc. Any kind of addiction is bad, and if you or your loved one is suffering from one, the Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California can help you get rid of it. Our experts can guide you to the treatment option that best suits your need. Call our 24/7 helpline number 855-980-1715 or chat online for further information.

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