Why don't northern American solutions to drinking and driving work in southern America?


  • Flavio Pechansky,

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
    2. Center for Drug and Alcohol Research, Hospital de Clínicas de Porto Alegre and Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
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  • Aruna Chandran

    1. International Injury Research Unit, Departments of International Health and Pediatrics, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD, USA
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Flavio Pechansky, Department of Psychiatry of the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Ramiro Barcelos 2350, room 2201A, Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul 90035-003, Brazil. E-mail: fpechans@uol.com.br


While individual studies from several South American countries have shown driving while intoxicated to be a problem, there are no objective systematically collected alcohol-associated driving data obtained in most South American countries. This limits their ability to implement and enforce targeted prevention strategies, evaluate whether proven prevention efforts from North America (particularly the United States and Canada) can be transferred to the South, and to sustain momentum for the improvement of road safety by demonstrating that previously implemented legal and policy changes are effective. The aim of this paper is to discuss the abysmal differences that exist between northern and southern American countries regarding the current status of driving while intoxicated prevention strategies—their implementation, impacts and effects—using Brazil as a case example. We propose a three-pronged approach to close this northern–southern American gap in driving while intoxicated prevention and intervention: (a) systematic collection on road traffic crash/injury/death as well as risk factor data, (b) passage of laws without loopholes requiring compliance with blood alcohol concentration testing and (c) provision of appropriate training and equipment to the police in concomitance with vigilant enforcement. Resources and energies must be put towards data collection, implementation of prevention strategies and enforcement in order to decrease the unacceptably high rates of these preventable driving while intoxicated deaths.