Reducing the incidence of impaired driving through globally effective countermeasures

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Danielle Comeau
Felix J.E. Comeau
Denise Connerty

Road traffic injuries and fatalities are a global public health concern, and the leading cause of death, worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, 47% of all countries do not have drink-driving laws based on best practices. Stricter impaired driving legislation is a start, but associated countermeasures such as increased public awareness and social support, random roadside sobriety testing, and remedial support for the convicted driver, have been proven to make these laws more effective in reducing traffic fatalities and recidivism. Bloomberg Philanthropies funded a consortium of partners to improve road safety in 10 coun­tries over 5 years spanning 2010 - 2014. Brazil was one of the countries chosen for this initial phase of the Global Road Safety Partnership as it has one of the highest rates of traffic fatalities in the world. Building on their initial success, this year began the start of the next five-year phase, spanning 2015 - 2019. During this phase, 10 cities and 5 countries were chosen to re­ceive support and intervention. Three of the ten cities are in South America, indicating their commitment to improve road safety. Education is key for a successful road safety initiative. Education of the judges regarding the sanctions and efficacy of the technology utilized, viz, roadside (portable) breath tester, alcohol interlocks, continuous alcohol monitoring, and oral fluid drug testers. Areas where there is doubt about the reliability of a technology used for detection, or a lack of knowledge regarding the technology, show a reduction in conviction rates. Judges who are familiar with and trust the results of the technology are more likely to convict offenders and support an integrated ap­proach to dealing with drink-driving.

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