Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Illinois DUI fatalities decline . . . steadily since 2002.

According to a press release today by the Illinois Government News Network, "The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT), Division of Traffic Safety today released data showing a lower number of alcohol-involved, motor vehicle fatalities in Illinois. The reduction in alcohol-involved fatalities has occurred steadily since 2002 with the largest decline occurring between 2007 and 2008."

Additionally, "According to data from IDOT and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the number of motor vehicle fatalities involving a drinking driver declined modestly but steadily from 2002 through 2008, culminating with a 16-percent decrease between 2007 and 2008. The number of fatalities involving a legally impaired driver (0.08 BAC and above) also declined from 2002 through 2008, and the total number of fatalities decreased by 77 between 2007 and 2008, a reduction of about 18 percent.

Another encouraging sign of improvement is the reduction in the Illinois’ alcohol-related fatality rate, the ratio of alcohol-involved fatalities to total annual vehicle miles traveled (VMT) in Illinois. This rate has been above 0.50 for several years in Illinois, but fell to 0.48 in 2007 and to a low of 0.41 in 2008."

So read that bit again. The number of fatalities involving motorists legally impaired (including those not caused by the impaired motorist) has steadily declined since 2002. Meanwhile, the last 3 years has seen increasingly tougher laws and penalties related to DUI. If decline has been steady between 2002 and the start of this toughening of laws, one has to ask . . . why change laws that worked?