NHTSA Partners with Organizations to Drive Home Message of Impaired-Driving Crashes

A transportation and health care coalition will facilitate thousands of patient screenings for alcohol-related problems, across the Southeast tomorrow.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
are teaming up to support the 2005 National Alcohol Screening Day (NASD) on April 7, which will screen patients for alcohol use problems and actively promote screening and brief intervention as part ongoing medical care.

Impaired driving is one of the nation’s deadliest problems. Nationally,
more than 17,000 people died in alcohol-related highway crashes during 2003, which equals a fatality every 30 minutes – or nearly 50 life-ending crashes a day.

Another 275,000 individuals suffered non-fatal-injuries at a cost of
nearly $51 billion dollars each year. Impaired driving is often a symptom of the larger problem of alcohol misuse, and medical research reportedly shows that screening and brief intervention are effective in changing drinking and driving patterns among these high-risk individuals.

“The deadly combination of alcohol and driving is plaguing our roadways with dangerous individuals who don’t know where to draw the line when they go out to have a good time,” Said Terry Schiavone, NHTSA administrator, Southeast Region. “By screening for alcohol use problems, we can break the cycle of abuse that ultimately leads to drunk drivers behind the wheel of a car.”

The impact of alcohol abuse on the workplace is a special focus of this year’s NASD. Currently, it is reportedly one of the top 10 conditions affecting employee productivity. The average employee engaged in hazardous drinking behavior reportedly adds $3,700 to his/her employer’s health care costs annually.

Studies reportedly show that the minimal costs associated with screening and brief intervention now, prevent companies from paying the high price associated with drunk driving in the future.

More than 200,000 people attended an NASD-sponsored screening at one of nearly 5,400 sites across the country in 2004. This record turnout led to more than 126,000 patient screenings. The Southeast Region reportedly saw a significant increase in participation, boasting nearly 900 sites, a 100 percent increase from 2003.

More than 33,500 individuals visited these sites – up from 16,000 in 2003 – and nearly 21,000 were screened, up from just below 10,000 in 2003.

Event sites are located in community, college, primary health care, military and employment settings. The program is designed to
provide outreach, screening and education about alcohol’s effects on health for the general public.

Visit http://www.nationalalcoholscreeningday.org for more information.