Roving Patrols Are Effective
The 2004 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) alcohol-related fatality data shows an instructive pattern: the 11 states driving the national decline in alcohol related fatalities are roving patrol states, where roadblocks are not used.
Analysis of the NHTSA numbers shows:
- Every one of the 11 non-roadblock states saw a decline in alcohol-related fatalities, while almost half of roadblock states saw an increase in alcohol-related fatalities.
- Due to this increase, the 39 states (plus the District of Columbia) that do operate
roadblocks only accounted for a net 17 fewer alcohol-related fatalities.
The analysis of drunk driving deaths—those above the 0.08% blood alcohol content (BAC) threshold—are even more significant, with the 11 roving patrol states showing a reduction of 308 deaths, while roadblock states sa 40 more drunk driving deaths.
Recent data from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation show that roving patrols catc up to 10 times as many drunk drivers as roadblocks.
Roving Patrols Target Hardcore Drunk Drivers
The average BAC of a drunk driver in a fatal crash is .19%—more than double the legal limit. These criminals, many of whom are repeat offenders, routinely reach extremely high BACs and then drive, posing an extreme traffic safety risk and accounting for a hugely disproportionate percentage of fatalities.
Their intractable nature led Department of Transportation research to conclude, "[S]pecific deterrence strategies like roving patrols that ‘hunt down’ DWIs, may be the optimum means for targeting the hard core drinking driver." These offenders must be taken off the road, and roving patrols are the best way to do that.
And since federal funding treats roving patrols and roadblocks identically, there is no excuse for pursuing public relations at the expense of public safety by using roadblocks.
Roving Patrols Get Drunk Drivers Off the Road
From a presentation by Jeffrey W. Runge, MD,
Administrator of the National Highway Traffic
Safety Administration, October 21, 2003.
Research going back over a decade agrees that roving patrols are far more effective than roadblocks at arresting drunk drivers. Unlike roadblocks, which randomly stop drivers (ensuring a very
low arrest rate), roving or "wolf pack" patrols roam the streets looking for dangerous driving behavior. This suspicion-based procedure not only respects constitutional rights but also vastly increases arrest rates,
since law enforcement are tracking down offenders, not waiting for drunk drivers to drive through a stationary roadblock.
The Experts Agree…
“[T]o effectively deter drunk drivers, the obvious remedy is to catch more drunk drivers by utilizing routine police patrols and roving DUI patrols, rather than using one pre-determined and pre-announced location.”
—PA State Supreme Court Justice Nigro, 2005
“[R]oving patrols are difficult to avoid, and the drivers arrested are most likely to be those at highest risk of crash involvement. Saturation patrols combine the desirable features of spot checks and routine patrols to create an efficient means of identifying the highest risk group of impaired driver—DWI repeat offenders.”
—Herb Simpson, President and CEO of the Traffic Injury Research Foundation
and winner of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving’s 2003
“Humanitarian of the Year” Award
“There has been a growing realization in recent years that a major portion of
the DWI problem is attributable to the ‘hard core drinking driver’ … Thus,
specific deterrence strategies like roving patrols that ‘hunt down’ DWIs, may
be the optimum means for targeting the hard core drinking driver.”
—”Experimental Evaluation of Sobriety Checkpoints,”
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration