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Drinking and driving: new directions

In: Journal of Psychiatric Treatment and Evaluation, Vol. 5, 1983, p. 539-544

Authors: Alexander C. Wagenaar

There is currently a high degree of interest in drinking/driving and the casualties that result. Many jurisdictions have implemented new laws and programmes designed to reduce drinking/driving. Most efforts to reduce alcohol-related traffic casualties have been based on three traditional approaches: (1) deter people from drinking/driving through arrest and punishment of offenders, (2) educate, treat, and rehabilitate apprehended drinking drivers who are problem or addicted drinkers, and (3) inform and educate the general public of the dangers of drinking/driving, and persuade them to reduce their driving after drinking. The limited success of past efforts based on these approaches is noted, and new directions for drinking/driving countermeasure policy are suggested. Alternatives include community intervention to minimize the number of situations in which driving after drinking is encouraged, and regulation of the marketing and distribution of alcoholic beverages based on public health and safety considerations. A comprehensive prevention programme requires that attention be given to the multiple factors that contribute to high rates of alcohol-related casualties.