Speed Enforcement and Impaired Driving

Washington State Patrol - How One Agency Is Using Speed Enforcement to Catch Impaired Drivers

Source: 

International Association of Chiefs of Police

Alcohol involvement is prevalent for drivers involved in speeding-related crashes, according to the Traffic Safety Facts 2010 Data, Speeding (DOT HS 811 636), published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2010, 42 percent of speeding drivers had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 grams per deciliter (g/dL) or higher in fatal crashes, compared to only 16 percent of non-speeding drivers involved in fatal crashes.²

The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) has recently released a case study highlighting what the Washington State Patrol (WSP) is doing to address the relationship between speed and alcohol. Between 2006 and 2010, 91 percent of all traffic fatalities in Washington State were caused by speed and alcohol. While most of the WSP’s speed enforcement takes place during the day, Lt. Swainson with the WSP says, “The speed that’s most likely to cause a death is speed that's mixed with alcohol at night.” According the NHTSA, “the rate of alcohol impairment among drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2010 was four times higher at night than during the day (37 percent versus 9 percent).”³

As part of the WSP and the Washington Traffic Safety Commission's Target Zero efforts, WSP established Target Zero Trooper (TZT). According to Lt. Swainson, TZT teams “focus exclusively on DUI enforcement—including common traffic violations that lead to DUI arrests, such as speeding– and work only nighttime shifts, when impaired driving is most prevalent,” During their two-year pilot program, their goal was to reduce fatalities by 80. At the conclusion of the program they had saved 109 lives.

² The U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts 2010 Data, Speeding, DOT HS 811 636,http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811636.pdf.
³ The U.S. Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts 2010 Data, Alcohol-Impaired Driving, DOT 811 606, http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811606.pdf.

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