According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), every day, approximately 37 people in the United States die in impaired-driving crashes. Alcohol-impaired-driving fatalities in the past 10 years increased from 9,865 in 2011 to 11,654 in 2020, then again to 13,384 in 2021. Alcohol-Impaired-driving also carries a significant price tag in addition to the loss of life. The economic cost of motor vehicle crashes that occurred in 2019 totaled $339.8 billion (Blincoe et al, 2023). Further complicating the impaired driving crisis, drug-impaired driving has become a significant issue on our roadways with polysubstance use increasing in prevalence. Unfortunately, current countermeasures are not effectively addressing the impaired driving issues on our roadways. A significant contributor to this deficiency in action are the inadequate state and local data systems regarding impaired driving. The variance and intricacies of impaired driving laws and policies across jurisdictions and vast number of agencies involved in impaired driving incidents impede the ability to obtain accurate, complete, uniform, reliable, accessible, and timely data to effectively implement life-saving solutions in this regard. There are several agencies involved when an impaired driving event occurs: first responders including law enforcement and EMS if a crash occurs; the municipal, county or state court system; the state driver licensing agency; treatment and impaired driving education centers – depending upon the level of offense and the state laws; toxicology labs; and others depending upon the circumstances of the incident.
Several studies have shown that repeat offenders are not only more likely to be involved in a fatal crash but are also more likely to continue to drive impaired, creating a significant public safety risk on our roadways. State and municipal tracking systems are critical to follow offenders and provide the appropriate interventions and countermeasures to prevent repeat or subsequent offenses from occurring. Not one state in the U.S. is able to provide a complete and accurate account of offenders from arrest through adjudication. Several states will not record an arrest as an impaired driving arrest until it has been adjudicated as a confirmed conviction. Often arrests are plead down to something other than a DWI, DUI, OWI, or OUI. Additionally, states often impose programs for “first time offenders” that expunge the impaired driving event from the record whereby subsequent arrests will again be considered a “first offense” and the process becomes a revolving door. Data sharing between agencies, even agencies within the same vein are significantly lacking. For example, state judicial systems are often not unified where each court system will have their own unique data reporting process and repository that are often not compatible with other jurisdictions.
The pandemic created new challenges in this regard and we have seen astonishing increases in roadway fatalities. It is even more critical now that a creation of a reliable transportation system is established. Improving data systems to utilize reliable, accurate and timely data is essential to inform a more reliable transportation system.
OUR CALL TO ACTION
Initial efforts for this Task Force were to identify State challenges regarding impaired driving arrest reporting to the FBI NIBRS system. Research has shown that these numbers are significantly under-reported whereby inadequately identifying the significance of the impaired driving issue in the U.S. Upon investigation, the Task Force realized a more holistic approach would be more effective and pivoted to work to improve State impaired data tracking systems overall.
ATSIP has taken on this initiative to not only work to help improve these individual traffic record systems, but to provide guidance to integrate these systems across their silos to provide sound data to better inform and increase the effectiveness of our safety countermeasures to eliminate deaths on our roadways and provide a more reliable transportation system. This Task Force is dedicated to providing assistance to states to create an impaired driving data tracking system whereby improving the data integration and data sharing among agencies to better identify potential impaired driving re-offenses, and to also inform agencies where early interventions can be implemented to prevent these deaths on our roadways, whereby creating a more effective and efficient countermeasure by which to “double down”. This Task Force is committed to enhance current countermeasures to eliminate impaired driving through the adoption of improved data systems by educating States/Municipalities/Jurisdictions about the importance of accurate, timely, and available data and changing the current Safety Culture in this regard to ultimately better inform current measures and then “Double Down on What Works”.
The ATSIP Impaired Driving Data Tracking Task Force seeks to identify those States/Municipalities/Jurisdictions whose agencies have successful components of an impaired driving tracking system, or those States/Municipalities/Jurisdictions that have the potential to develop those components to implement a successful impaired driving tracking system. Upon identification of these States/Municipalities/Jurisdictions, further investigation to identify critical components needed to fully integrate agency systems will be pursued including the identification of significant barriers, strategies to overcome these barriers, and key components to accomplish a fully integrated system with guidance from subject matter experts for each integrated system.
The ATSIP Impaired Driving Data Task Force plans to produce an initial “Guide to Implementing an Impaired Driving State Data Tracking System” where those States/Municipalities/Jurisdictions whose agencies have successful components of an impaired driving tracking system, or those States/Municipalities/Jurisdictions that have the potential to develop those components to implement a successful impaired driving tracking system will be identified. Upon identification of these States/Municipalities/Jurisdictions, the Task Force will further investigate these jurisdictions to identify critical components needed to fully integrate agency systems as well as significant barriers impeding the integration or sharing of data, and strategies to overcome these barriers.
The intention of this Task Force is to ultimately identify key components to accomplish a fully integrated system with guidance from ATSIP subject matter experts and our Knowledge Partners, culminating in the development and production of a “Guide to Implementing an Impaired Driving State Data Tracking System” .