ST. LOUIS – As the nation’s largest brewer prepares to celebrate Global Be(er) Responsible Day this Friday, Anheuser-Busch today welcomed a group of experts on impaired driving to its St. Louis headquarters to discuss progress and key performance measures that are crucial to identifying gaps and closing loopholes in the nation’s DWI system.
Led by the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF), the Working Group on DWI System Improvements is a coalition of senior representatives from 15 leading criminal justice organizations working to close gaps in the DWI system and strengthen the development and implementation of drunk driving initiatives. Since 2004, the Working Group has met annually to address priority issues in the criminal DWI system that were identified during a comprehensive system review that involved more than 5,000 justice professionals across the United States in 2003.
TIRF’s ground-breaking research on the nation’s DWI system is supported by Anheuser-Busch, an alcohol industry leader in efforts to promote responsible drinking and reduce drunk driving.
This year’s meeting will focus on performance measurement and the need to expand baseline measures and track progress throughout the entire DWI system in order to better evaluate program successes in areas such as enforcement, prosecution and treatment.
“Much has been learned about effective strategies, programs and interventions to deal with drunk drivers in the past decade,” said Robyn Robertson, project lead and TIRF President and CEO. “However, less emphasis has been given to the execution of these tools, current barriers and measures of success. By sharing this knowledge and increasing the understanding and execution of effective and proven strategies — and methods to maximize their effectiveness — we can continue to prevent drunk driving deaths on American roadways.”
Carl Wicklund, executive director of the American Probation and Parole Association, agrees a comprehensive approach is needed to improve system outcomes and ensure a more coordinated total system response to drunk driving.
“Current efforts to identify outcome measures will provide the necessary accountability and transparency to keep DWI system efforts on track and effective,” said Wicklund. “Working Group members and the organizations they represent are grateful for Anheuser-Busch’s sponsorship of this important endeavor to improve public safety.”
As a follow-up to last year’s meeting, the Working Group issued its latest report, titled “Effective Strategies to Reduce Drunk Driving,” in August. Available athttp://www.tirf.ca/publications/publications_show.php?pub_id=264, the report describes effective tools within the drunk driving system, including alcohol monitoring technologies; screening, assessment and treatment; DWI courts; community supervision; traffic safety resource prosecutors; and impaired driving data systems.
“We all have a role to play when it comes to promoting alcohol responsibility and preventing drunk driving,” said Kathy Casso, vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility at Anheuser-Busch. “That’s why we support TIRF’s research on the DWI system and work with our local wholesalers, law enforcement, elected officials and community organizations to help keep our roads safe.”
On Sept. 23, employees of Anheuser-Busch and its sister companies around the world will be in their communities to promote the importance of designated drivers as part of Global Be(er) Responsible Day. To join the effort, adults can visit www.facebook.com/budweiser to show their support for designated drivers by pledging to be one, or use one.
Since 1982, Anheuser-Busch and its nationwide network of independent wholesalers have invested more than $875 million in national advertising campaigns and community-based programs to promote responsible drinking and help prevent underage drinking and drunk driving. In addition to funding TIRF’s research, Anheuser-Busch’s efforts include creating national media campaigns to promote personal responsibility and designated drivers, training retailers to spot signs of intoxication and to handle them effectively, and offering safe ride programs, which include designated driver and cab ride components.
Thanks to efforts such as these, as well as the work of law enforcement, legislators, traffic safety groups, concerned citizens and many others, steady progress has been made in reducing drunk driving. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, fatalities in drunk-driving crashes have declined 49 percent since 1982, to a record-low level. This decline comes despite significant increases in vehicle miles traveled, registered motor vehicles and population.