Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Study: Cities with Tougher Liquor Laws Have Fewer Alcohol-Related Traffic Deaths

Magazine article Nation's Cities Weekly

Study: Cities with Tougher Liquor Laws Have Fewer Alcohol-Related Traffic Deaths

Article excerpt

A study by researchers at the RAND Corporation found that cities that had lower fatality rates from alcohol-related traffic deaths generally had stricter liquor laws.

Deborah Cohen, M.D., MPH for RAND, conducted the study and found that cities with nine or fewer of the 20 key alcohol sales regulations had an alcohol fatality rate of close to one and a half times that of areas with 15 or more of the regulations.

"This study points out some of the immediate steps that a city or state agency can implement that are likely to reduce alcohol related traffic deaths," Cohen said.

"Cities and states that today do not control access to alcohol, are not careful about whom they provide alcohol licenses, do not enforce DUI laws with sobriety checks and do not enforce penalties on violations of liquor laws, may be unnecessarily jeopardizing the lives of their citizens," she said.

The study stressed that these four measures could significantly help in reducing alcohol fatality rates in cities. The study used 97 cities across 38 states from 1995 through 1997.

The research concentrated on seven key items: laws governing alcohol accessibility; licensing requirements; disciplinary procedures for liquor law violations; enforcement; policies on DUI; resources available to enforcement officers; and educational efforts by regulatory agencies.

Of the cities used, Lincoln, Neb., Syracuse, N.Y., New York and Madison, Wis., respectively, had the lowest fatality rates during the study, while Dallas, Kansas City, Mo., Albuquerque, N.M., and Nashville-Davidson, Tenn., finished with the highest. The rankings were based on the number of deaths per 100,000 residents and on the number of deaths per 100,000 per daily miles traveled.

As for the four measures to which the study emphasized as helping to lower alcohol fatality rates, the results were as follows:

Alcohol Accessibility

The study measured how difficult it was for residents to buy alcohol. Of the cities participating, 85 percent said they prohibited public drinking, 70 percent prohibited drinking in an automobile and 62 percent prohibited alcohol drive-through services. …

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