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Nick Jarmusz
phone: 608-828-2495
December 01, 2016
AAA: Young Adults, Bar and Tavern Patrons Most Likely to Drink and Drive

Survey explores perceptions and prevalence of impaired driving in Wisconsin

MADISON, WI (December 1, 2016) – According to state crash data, alcohol is the most common contributing factor in fatal crashes on Wisconsin roads.  A recent survey conducted by AAA provides fresh insight into the state’s persistent struggle with impaired driving.  The results are consistent with the 2016 Wisconsin Epidemiological Profile on Alcohol and Other Drug Use published by the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.  
“Wisconsin has made laudable progress in recent years, but impaired driving rightfully remains a top concern for AAA Members and the general public,” said Nick Jarmusz, Wisconsin director of public affairs for AAA – The Auto Club Group.  “We believe that the results of this survey can help prevent crashes and save lives by making the efforts to eliminate this dangerous practice more strategic and impactful.”  
The survey examined opinions and behavior among Wisconsin residents age 21 and over.  Key findings include:

  • Over 40 percent of drivers who consume alcohol admit to getting behind the wheel within two hours of having multiple drinks at least once in the last year.Drivers age 21-34 are the most likely do so, with one in five (21%) reporting that they drive after drinking at least once a month.This is especially troubling because young drivers are also the most likely to have five or more drinks in a single day, with 33 percent doing so more than once a month (compared to 25 percent or less for other ages groups).

  • Bars and taverns are identified as the most common venue for drinking before driving.Fifty-three percent of those who admit to driving within two hours of consuming multiple drinks say they do so after leaving such establishments.Drivers age 21-44 are more likely to drive after drinking at a bar or tavern than other age groups (over 60% compared to 46% or less).

  • Jail time, license revocation and ignition interlock devices are generally viewed as equally effective deterrents against drinking and driving, but there are differences based on age.Drivers over age 55 view ignition interlocks as the most effective of the three, while younger drivers (age 21-54) view them as the least effective.
  • According to the survey, most agree that impaired driving is a greater problem in Wisconsin than it is in other states (59%) and that the state’s penalties for impaired driving are too lenient (56%).
  • Only 38 percent of respondents believe there is adequate street-level enforcement of impaired driving laws, and just 29 percent are confident that courts in the state are properly ruling on impaired driving cases.
“The results of this survey reinforce the need to sustain and enhance the efforts to combat impaired driving on every front,” continued Jarmusz.  “We need to have strong laws that are adequately enforced and properly applied, as well as continuous public awareness campaigns for drivers of all ages.”

AAA recommends that the following strategies to prevent impaired driving be adopted at the state and local level:
  • Participation in high visibility enforcement campaigns, saturation patrols, and regional impaired driving task forces by all law enforcement agencies.
  • The use of the “place of last drink” data collected during impaired driving stops to identify licensed establishments that may be overserving drivers.
  • The creation of a judicial liaison position within WisDOT’s Bureau of Transportation Safety and the establishment of more OWI courts.
  • Strengthening the state’s ignition interlock program to improve compliance among offenders and increase its effectiveness as a deterrent, particularly for young adults.
AAA maintains a website that provides information on a wide range of impaired-driving issues related to the detection, prosecution and adjudication of drunken drivers. AAA’s goal is to help judges, prosecutors, probation officers and law enforcement professionals identify problems and offer potential solutions in an effort to reduce drunken driving on America’s roadways.
The 2016 Wisconsin Impaired Driving survey was developed with input from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Safety and the Wisconsin Alcohol Policy Project. It was conducted online among Wisconsin residents ages 21 and older from September 19-23, 2016.  A total of 630 residents completed the survey.  The survey results have a minimum margin of error of +/- 3.9 percentage points.  
About The Auto Club Group
The Auto Club Group (ACG) is the second largest AAA club in North America.  ACG and its affiliates provide membership, travel, insurance and financial services offerings to over 9 million members across eleven states and two U.S. territories including Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Michigan, Nebraska, North Dakota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; most of Illinois and Minnesota; and a portion of Indiana.  ACG belongs to the national AAA federation with more than 55 million members in the United States and Canada and whose mission includes protecting and advancing freedom of mobility and improving traffic safety.

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