A new study conducted by Vermont’s Police revealed that less Americans are drinking and driving compared to three decades ago.
Especially during the holiday season police is hunting for drivers who hopped behind the wheel after having a dried Martini with their turkey. But for officers in Vermont things are way more relaxed than they were during the 80s and even the 90s.
According to Lt. John Flannigan, the DUI (driving under influence)-related accidents have fallen from over 50 percent during the 1980s and 90s to less than 35 percent during the last years. Bob Edwards, a retired police officer recalls that during the late 70s and early 80s driving on the state’s roads was ‘like wild west’, with drivers losing control of their car while driving under influence every night. Many times they were killing themselves driving into trees or killing other people.
Things are much more chilled now in Vermont, where there has only been one fatal accident two years ago and three last year and none of them were associated with alcohol consumption.
According to Edwards the change is given by increasingly high punishments for DUI and by the development of better tactics for detecting the intoxicated drivers. He says that during the 80s there were checkpoints and a lot of people were getting arrested, which used to upset the whole community.
Edwards has seen a major change in cultural attitudes for which he credits organizations like Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The former police chief claims that their ads showing pictures of children killed by drunk drivers with their names and date of death were some of the most effective means of decreasing DUI. Besides that, there are more and more organizations working in local schools to prevent alcohol and drug consumption among teenagers.
Another major shift is the attitude of bar managers and of the bar culture. Edwards recalls that when he was a teenager when somebody was really drunk into a bar the bartender would just send someone to follow them home while today they cut off the people who are too drunk to drive, they offer to call a cab and even ask groups about their designated driver.
A major influence on the culture of alcohol consumption and DUI was also triggered by the rising of the legal drinking age from 18 years old to 21. There is scientific evidence that teenagers who start drinking earlier in life are more susceptible to alcoholism and to accidents.
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