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The last two decades have brought dramatic progress in reducing alcohol related crashes in most of the developed world. Declines have occurred in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, most Western European countries and in the United States. The United States has seen declines both in the number of alcohol related traffic fatalities and in the proportion of traffic fatalities that are alcohol related. Many different factors have contributed to the progress we have seen and certainly different factors have been predominant in different countries. Articles in this issue of the journal provide information on some of the activities in the United States and Canada.
In the United States, we tend to assume that we are the center of the universe and that almost anything of significance is invented here. Prevention of impaired driving, however, is one area where we acknowledge our debt to other countries that have pioneered many of the most effective prevention strategies. For example, the United States drew valuable lessons regarding deterrence from analyzing the results of the British Road Safety Act of 1967. Similarly, we have learned about alcohol policy and serious enforcement and penalties from some of the Scandinavian countries. The Australian experience with random breath testing has influenced some of our own enforcement efforts.
The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently sponsored a systematic effort to gather information about impaired driving laws from countries around the world. The intent of this effort is to contribute to our understanding of impaired driving countermeasures and of how the current situation in the United States compares to other countries. The project also includes an analysis of alcohol involvement in fatal traffic crashes in countries around the world and the relevant regulations, definitions, and procedures used to measure and report alcohol involvement.
The primary purpose of this project …
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