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Federal agency gathers driver safety data at voluntary stops

With the high velocities on Illinois highways, some element of risk may be unavailable in motor vehicle travel. When a car accident is the result of negligent drinking and driving, however, the tragedy may seem unforgivable.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is a federal agency committed to improving motorist safety. In the war against drunk driving, the NHTSA has been collecting national data from drivers for the past 40 years. However, readers may not have heard about this practice until recently.

At designated locations called voluntary roadside checkpoints, off-duty but uniformed police officers will stop motorists and inquire whether they would like to participate in a voluntary study. Federal officials hope that driver responses to questions about common driving patterns and drinking and driving habits may help them design more effective safety and educational campaigns.

The need for vigilance against this form of negligent, and often criminal, behavior is in the numbers: NHTSA officials estimate the annual death toll from drunk driving crashes to be around 10,000 Americans. Said another way, 27 victims of drunk driving accidents die each day in this country.

In the eyes of a jury, a drunk driver may have little excuses for his or her behavior. Understandably, the alleged offender may face not only criminal, but also civil liability for injuries resulting from the alcohol-related crash. A personal injury attorney that specializes in car accidents will know what evidence will present a strong case to jurors, hopefully persuading them to award a sizable recovery to the crash victims.

Source: USA Today, “Voluntary government checkpoints spark backlash,” Larry Copeland, Jan. 7, 2014