Just in time for the holiday weekend, the Washington State Patrol’s mobile DUI unit is parked at the Lynnwood Police Department.
The converted RV allows police officers to find drunk drivers, drop them off for processing with other officers and then hit the streets again.
The “Mobile Impaired Driving Unit” has BAC machines, two holding cells and work stations for officers to work on their reports. The idea is to have patrol officers spend more time on the road than on paperwork.
The State Patrol’s RV tours the state to help local officers nab drunk drivers.
According to the State Patrol, four people died in collisions over the Labor Day weekend last year. Five died during the same period in 2008.
“Our goal this year is zero,” Chief John Batiste said. “We believe there’s no reason for anyone to die in a traffic collision. All that’s required is for people to make better choices.”
Chief Batiste seems to be making a blanket assumption that all traffic accident deaths are attributable to drunk driving. However, even by NHTSA's own statistics only 35% of fatality accidents in Washington involved someone over a .08% BAC. This is not to say that DUI emphasis patrols are not a good idea (they are). Instead we need to realize that a significant majority of fatality are not alcohol related. Thus, you can eliminate every DUI driver from the road and you will still have well over 65% of the existing fatalities.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “A motor vehicle crash is considered to be alcohol-related if at least one driver or non-occupant (such as a pedestrian or pedalcyclist) involved in the crash is determined to have had a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .01 gram per deciliter (g/dL) or higher. Thus, any fatality that occurs in an alcohol-related crash is considered an alcohol-related fatality. The term 'alcohol-related' does not indicate that a crash or fatality was caused by the presence of alcohol.”
This means that the 35% figure is significantly inflated (taking out drivers that were not the cause of the accident and “drunk walkers”) and actual alcohol-caused automobile deaths probably represent a number in the teens. We should do make the effort to get drunk drivers off the road, but we should als be truthful about how much of a danger drunk drivers really are.
Watching the local news you’d think alcohol caused almost all auto accidents as they say almost always say, “alcohol may have been involved.”
Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.