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Survey Indicates a Shift in Perceptions About Drunk Driving

PHOTO: A survey released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving finds the majority of people who choose to use a designated driver when they are out do so because they want to stay safe. Photo credit: D. Medina/Morguefile.
PHOTO: A survey released by Mothers Against Drunk Driving finds the majority of people who choose to use a designated driver when they are out do so because they want to stay safe. Photo credit: D. Medina/Morguefile.
November 18, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - Driving while impaired can lead to big legal troubles, but a new survey finds the fear of a DUI is not the main reason most people choose to use a designated driver.

In a survey released Monday by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the majority of respondents indicated they use a designated driver because they want to keep themselves and others safe.

Sam Canzoneri, Illinois state executive director of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, says the findings are a bit surprising - and indicate a shift in cultural perceptions.

"Folks are now seeing the consequences and the horrific aftermath that comes along with DUI crashes and fatalities, and that this is not socially acceptable," says Canzoneri. "They're placing a heavier accountability with respect to DUI."

About half of the adults 21 and older involved in the survey said they had been a designated driver in the past year, while 39 percent reported having been driven by a designated driver. In Illinois, 312 people were killed in alcohol-involved crashes in 2012.

Canzoneri says there has been a downward trend over the past few decades in the number of alcohol-related crashes, but he says he's not so sure Illinois roads are any safer.

"You factor in drugged-related driving, motorists under the influence of various prescribed and not-prescribed narcotics, and then you factor in the equation distracted driving and texting," says Canzoneri. "No, I don't believe our roads are safer."

MADD is kicking off its annual Tie One On for Safety campaign, which Canzoneri says encourages motorists to plan ahead and designate a non-drinking driver if they plan on celebrating with alcohol.

"Whether that plan incorporates having a designated driver or calling a cab," he says, "you have to have a plan because even after one cocktail your judgment is altered."

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than 1,000 people were killed in drunk-driving crashes nationwide between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve in 2012.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - IL