Study Shows that More DWI Laws Lead to Less Fatalities

Posted by Ryan Russman | Jun 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

A recent study suggests that more traffic laws will help to decrease the number of fatal traffic accidents that occur in a state. Medical Daily reports that a study entitled "Variation in U.S. Traffic Safety Policy Environments and Motor Vehicle Fatalities" was published in the journal Public Health and found that states which have more numerous and stricter DWI laws have lower rates of traffic deaths.

The study looked at 27 different laws that covered everything from child restraint laws to taxing alcohol with a focus on laws that somehow related to DUI. They then looked at how many laws states have adopted and compared that with the number of traffic related deaths in the state. Data was examined from 1980 to 2010. In order to determine which laws to focus on, researchers stated that they looked at the following 2 criteria:

The first being that all 27 laws must be aimed at changing individual behaviors concerning either alcohol consumption and/or traffic safety, and the second being that prior research must have already conferred the health benefits of enforcing each law.

The first thing that researchers noticed was that, overall, DUI law implementation has increased over the past several decades. In 1980, states enforced about 7.7% of the laws researched and by 2010, 59% of laws were adopted.

The biggest discovery of the survey, however, was the relationship between the percentage of laws passed pertaining to DWI and the level of driving fatalities. They found that states that adopted the highest percentage of these laws had less auto accidents on average than states that adopted the least number of laws. In fact, the top quartile of states had 14.5% fewer traffic deaths than those in the lowest quartile.  The results of this study suggest that DWI laws are working and the harsher a state treats offenders the more the safer the roads will be. States that implement more DWI laws are not just punishing those who drive under the influence but are also are shaping the behaviors of all drivers.

A 2004 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that in 2003 there were 52 alcohol-related fatalities in New Hampshire which accounted for 41% of all auto accident related fatalities. That same year the average for the U.S. was 40%.

Over the course of the study DWI rates steadily decreased as a whole. In fact, the overall number of injuries and deaths related to DWI in the U.S. has steadily declined since the 1960s. This is believed to be due in part to the presence of fewer inexperienced drivers as well as the passage of more DUI laws.

One factor that's not discussed in this study is the increase of drunk driving awareness. Perhaps states with stricter DWI laws also participate in more awareness programs. Further studies should be performed to rule out any other factors that could be affecting this trend. However, studies like this are often used to push lawmakers into passing additional legislation. Based on this study, it is a fair assumption that many states, including New Hampshire, will look to tighter their DWI laws even more in the coming years.

About the Author

Ryan Russman

Attorney Ryan Russman has dedicated his career to fighting for the rights of New Hampshire citizens. His practice, based in Exeter (Rockingham County) New Hampshire, is limited to cases involving DWI and DUI, other motor vehicle and criminal cases, and many cases involving personal injury. He is, however, best known as one of New Hampshire's leading legal authorities on DWI.


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