(COSTA MESA, Sept. 16, 2009) – The Automobile Club of Southern California and the County of Orange Health Care Agency Alcohol and Drug Education and Prevention Team (ADEPT) today announced the launch of the Orange County DUI Prevention Task Force with the goal of addressing impaired driving issues throughout the county.
Led by the Auto Club and the County of Orange’s ADEPT, the task force – made of numerous law enforcement, health care and alcohol education organizations -- is expected to assess the scope of driving under the influence in Orange County, develop and implement comprehensive countywide approaches to addressing the issue, as well as identify innovative prevention and intervention strategies. The coalition also plans to use recommendations from the California Strategic Highway Safety Implementation Plan that addresses driving under the influence.
The Orange County DUI Prevention Task Force also will evaluate the effectiveness of approaches used to address the issue. It also will target responsible beverage serving practices of restaurants and bars, according to the organizers. Sub-committees are expected to be formed on law enforcement, public policy, and marketing and community education.
The Orange County DUI Prevention Task Force kick off meeting will be held today (Wednesday, Sept. 16), at the Costa Mesa Neighborhood Community Center for countywide stakeholders.
Although the good news is that in Orange County in 2007, alcohol-involved fatal collisions decreased by 5.1 percent and the number of alcohol-involved crash fatalities decreased by 6.8 percent over the previous year, this is just the first decrease of these figures in the last 10 years.
Still, Orange County had more than 10,000 DUI arrests, along with its neighbors Los Angeles, San Diego and San Bernardino counties, which accounted for 43.9 percent of all arrests in the state, according to law enforcement data.
“There’s been a significant change in our driving culture overall,” said Anita Lorz of the Auto Club’s Community Programs and Traffic Safety. “Despite the approximately $12,000 or more in fines, fees and penalties associated with a DUI conviction and the threat of death or injury, motorists still choose to drive impaired and threaten themselves and others.”
The task force is expected to meet monthly to develop and implement countywide education, prevention and enforcement programs to target DUI.
The countywide task force is a coalition made up of the Auto Club, ADEPT, and the Costa Mesa DUI Task Force. These groups hosted the first countywide DUI Community Forum last December of which the coalition is an outgrowth. More than 130 traffic-safety; health care; alcohol and drug prevention; and law enforcement professionals attended the forum and heard presentations from local, state and national experts on various aspects of impaired driving and who have a shared interest in reducing impaired driving in Orange County.
At the community forum the Auto Club shared its analysis of California drinking and driving data from 1998 to 2007 that showed that alcohol-related crashes involving young adult women drivers soared. The Auto Club found that women drivers ages 21-24 involved in fatal and injury alcohol-related crashes more than doubled – rising by 116%. The Auto Club analysis also showed their male counterparts’ crashes during the same period rose 39%.