On December 18, 1986, Massachusetts enacted the Safe Roads Act to reduce drunk driving, traffic injuries and deaths. Courts can now suspend the license at arrangement up to 90 days or until trail of any driver with a blood alcohol level greater than or equal to .10% (four to five drinks for a 150 pound person). Half the U.S. states have such legislation. Penalties were increased for first and repeat offenders (particularly those under 20), and intoxicated drivers involved in fatal crashes. Per se laws and penalty increases alone typically achieve only short term reductions in drunk driving and traffic deaths. To sustain longer term reductions, a $3.5 million Massachusetts- Commonwealth Fund Traffic Safety Program will provide three- year grants of up to $200,000 to Massachusetts cities with greater than or equal to 500 annual traffic injuries. Community programs must include 1) increased police enforcement, 2) public information, 3) education programs for middle and high schools, 4) corporate seat beld/drunk driving programs and special initiatives to meet unique community traffic safety needs, and 5) community traffic safety task forces comprised of government officials, law enforcement officers, educators, media, civic groups and local busineses. A state commission will coordinate and sustain programs after grant completion. To assess the impact of this state legislative/community eduation and enforcement package, Massachusetts will be compared to the rest of New England from 1982 through 1992. Within Massachusetts, communities with fundable applications will be randomly divided into program and control groups for comparison. It is hypothesized that Massachusetts (particularly program communities) will achieve sustained reductions in drunk driving and related traffic injuries and fatalities relative to the rest of New England. Fatal and nighttime fatal crash rates and numbers of intoxicated fatally injured drivers preceding and following the law/program will be monitored, as will injury crash, DWI, arrest and court conviction data. Statwide random digit dial telelphone surveys of 1,000 adults and 1,000 teenagers from Massachusetts in 1987, 1988, 1989 and from the rest of New England in 1987 and 1989 that query respondent perceptions of drunk driving law enforcement, exposure to program education, and their own drinking and driving and other traffic safety behaviors will be compared to similar surveys from 1983 to 1986. Additional annual teen school and adult surveys in program and control communities in 1987 - 1990 will be conducted. Visual surveys will monitor belt use and automatic equipment will monitor traffic speed throughout New England.
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