Citizen Reporting of DUI- Extra Eyes to Identify Impaired Driving
As part of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) Mid-Atlantic Region’s Checkpoint Strikeforce6 evaluation, PIRE assisted the NHTSA Regional Office and the States in the Mid-Atlantic region in developing a brief survey appropriate for administration in Motor Vehicle Administration’s offices. The survey for the Extra Eyes evaluation used several of the same items and also incorporated several items that were more specific to the evaluation of Extra Eyes. We received almost 200 completed surveys each from Prince George’s and Montgomery counties and more than 300 from Anne Arundel County, giving us a measure of the extent to which motorists were aware of Extra Eyes. The additional questions specific to the Extra Eyes program and citizen reporting follow:
The complete survey is contained in Appendix D.
We refined the data-collection procedures to the settings in each county and provided the MVA offices at each site with the materials to conduct the surveys (e.g., instructions, survey forms, prepaid envelopes). MVA personnel administered the surveys.
In the fall of 2005, PIRE staff assembled survey packages and mailed them to the three counties. The Gaithersburg MVA (Montgomery County), Largo MVA (Prince George’s County), and Annapolis MVA (Anne Arundel County) are the busiest offices. Thus, arrangements were made to have MVA staff hand out the surveys at these participating MVA offices. We instructed MVA personnel to give the survey form to driver’s license applicants after they knew that they were going to receive their license and while they were waiting for their photographs to be developed. This was done to reduce response bias (i.e., to ensure that respondents answer questions truthfully rather than in the way that they thought the examiner would like them to respond).
The MVA offices mailed the completed forms back to PIRE, where data were entered and analyses were conducted.
Because of the short evaluation period for Phase 1, the MVA administered the survey only once. The Extra Eyes program began in November 2002 (almost three years prior); thus, we evaluated the program retroactively. To do this, we assessed the change in public awareness across those three years based on recall, which has significant limitations.
The aim of this survey was to better understand citizen awareness of Extra Eyes (in comparison to other enforcement programs) and other citizen reporting programs, and the public’s receptivity and perceived effectiveness of trained citizens reporting suspected drunk drivers.
Data from the three counties (Montgomery, Prince George’s, and Anne Arundel) were analyzed to determine awareness of Extra Eyes and to assess differences in self-reported drinking-and-driving behaviors.
Chi-square tests were used to verify consistency among the counties concerning the characteristics of the sample, such as age, gender, and race. Then, we conducted additional chi-square tests and t-tests to test the effectiveness of the Extra Eyes program in raising awareness of the program (proportion recognizing the program name) and changing attitudes and self-reported behavior (proportion reporting driving after drinking and mean number of times of doing so).
Surveys of the public completed at MVA sites in Montgomery, Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties were analyzed to determine the broad community perspective on the issues related to drinking and driving. Specific site locations were:
A total of 684 surveys were obtained from the three sites with approximately 100 more surveys from Anne Arundel County (302) than from the Prince George’s County (184) or Montgomery County (198) sites.
As illustrated in Figures 7 through 9, chi-square tests of survey results from the three MVA sites revealed similar demographic distributions by sex, but significant (p = 0.00) differences by race and age. These counties are so different demographically that their survey responses may not represent true differences between the jurisdictions. The responses from the three sites are generally combined to reflect the overall public opinion of topics queried in the survey. Montgomery and Prince George’s survey participants were evenly divided by gender (52% and 50% male in each county, respectively), whereas Anne Arundel had slightly more male respondents (59%). More than one-third of the respondents in each community reported being in the 30 to 45 age range. The lowest number of participants (in all communities) was reported to be 20 and younger. At the Anne Arundel County site, respondents were approximately 10 percent more likely than the other two sites to be in the 46- to 64-year-old age range.
Participants from the three sites varied considerably by race. The majority (82%) of participants
Table 24 reports the number of Spanish-origin participants who completed the survey. Montgomery County had the highest percentage (79%).
Drinking and Driving Characteristics
About half (47%) of the participants reported not consuming any alcoholic beverages in the past 30 days, and 19 percent drank only for celebrations or special occasions. The remaining respondents reported drinking once a week (14%) or more. When reviewing across sites, approximately 1 to 2 percent of participants from all three counties reported they “drank every day.” For those who reported drinking “several days a week,” Anne Arundel County had the highest percentage (11%) compared with Montgomery County at 6 percent or and Prince George’s County at 1 percent (see Figure 10).
When asked about the number of times that they had driven within two hours of driving in the last 30 days, most respondents from all sites indicated “zero” (Figure 11). However, in Anne Arundel County, 6 percent reported “once,” versus Montgomery County, 3 percent, and Prince George’s County, 1 percent. Furthermore, as indicated in Figure 12, more than 80 percent of the total drivers had less than one drink on the most recent occasion that they drove within two hours of drinking. The majority of participants reporting drinking one or two drinks on these driving occasions were from Montgomery and Anne Arundel counties. However, no statistically significant differences were found when comparing these counties.
Among all respondents, most drivers (98%) responded that, in the last 30 days, they had not driven when they thought they had too much to drink. Only 1.5 percent said they had driven once under the influence. Across counties, 2.3 percent of the Anne Arundel County respondents reported driving once after drinking too much, followed by Prince George’s County at 1.3 percent and Montgomery County at less than 1 percent. There were no statistically significant differences between the counties. Table 25 shows how many times participants drove after drinking too much.
County residents from all sites had fairly similar views about the vigilance of the enforcement in the counties (see Table 26). On a scale of “almost certain,” “very likely,” “somewhat likely,” “somewhat unlikely,” and “very unlikely,” almost a half the residents thought that it was “almost certain” or “very likely” that a police officer would stop an inebriated driver. Comparing across sites, Montgomery County respondents were more likely (34%) to believe that being stopped was “almost certain” compared to Anne Arundel County (27%) and Prince George’s County (27%). Analysis revealed that this difference was not statistically significant but was in the direction of a higher perceived likeliness in Montgomery County (p<.06). Twenty-six percent of the total respondent pool felt it “very unlikely” that they would be stopped after having too much to drink. The largest percentage was from Prince George’s County (40%), followed by Montgomery County (25%) and then Anne Arundel County (20%).
The residents also were asked to compare how their actions or observations have changed compared with three years ago and to compare the regularity of their driving after drinking then and now (Table 27). Most (80%) answered that they did not drive after drinking at all. Only 1.3 percent admitted to drinking and driving more often than they did three years ago, which was about the same for all jurisdictions. The others were distributed (10% each) between drinking and driving “less often” and “about the same.” There were no statistically significant differences between the sites.
With respect to officer presence, almost one-third of the respondents (30%) saw police more often on their normal driving routes than they did three years ago. This percentage was somewhat less (24%) in Montgomery County than the other two jurisdictions (Figure 13). More than half (56%) of the drivers thought that today’s enforcement of drinking-and-driving laws were “about right.” Although 18 percent did not know, 26 percent thought that they were too weak. In the preceding 30 days, slightly more of the sample (58%) had seen or heard about a checkpoint where police were looking for impaired drivers, and 12.6 percent had actually gone through one.
Respondents were asked about their awareness of drinking-and-driving enforcement efforts. Approximately half (54%) of the respondents had recently learned about enforcement of impaired driving in Maryland through the media. Television was cited the most (32%) as the source of information on enforcement efforts, followed by newspapers at 23 percent and radio at 17 percent. All other named sources—brochures, posters, and police checkpoints—together were chosen less than 12 percent of the time.
Respondents were given a list of names of impaired driving enforcement-related programs and asked to check the names of those that they recognized. The list consisted of either impaired driving enforcement programs or enforcement-related slogans, or both. The majority (37%) chose the “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk” slogan that is not an enforcement program. The “You Drink and Drive. You Lose.” which is both a slogan and a program, was selected 34 percent of the time. Only 1.5 percent of respondents were aware of the name Extra Eyes as an impaired driving enforcement program. Slightly more (9%) were aware that there was a program where citizens could report suspected drunk drivers. There was no significant difference between the three sites in their awareness of such programs. It is important to note that all three counties are contiguous counties sharing most media outlets. So it is not surprising that there is no measurable difference in the awareness of the Extra Eyes program between them. Of perhaps more direct relevance to the program is that Extra Eyes was infrequently recognized in all three of the counties indicating that public awareness efforts might need to be more intensive.
To answer whether a program such as Extra Eyes would have support from citizens, we asked about the utility of using trained citizens to detect impaired driving. Most (80%) thought that trained citizens could be “very” or “somewhat effective” in detecting and reporting drunk drivers to the police, and the majority (62%) would support such a program in their communities. There was only a small group (10%) of respondents who thought that trained citizens would not be at all effective in detecting and reporting drunk drivers. A slightly larger group (17%) would not support a citizen reporting program. Slightly more than half were not sure if they would be supportive.
Although no statistical differences were found between the sites in relation to drinking-and-driving behavior, perceived enforcement and program awareness, as well as directional trends, can be observed. Prince George’s County residents were least likely to report drinking regularly (or at all) or drinking and driving. However, almost twice the number of Prince George’s County residents thought it was “very unlikely” they would be stopped as did Anne Arundel or Montgomery County residents. Although Anne Arundel County residents reported the greatest amount of drinking, and of drinking and driving, a trend towards more respondents (3.8%) from Montgomery County compared with Prince George’s or Anne Arundel County (about one quarter) responded that, in their community, it was “almost certain” that individuals would be apprehended if they were drinking and driving. Twenty-eight percent of Annapolis residents believed that it was “somewhat or very unlikely” for inebriated drivers to be apprehended for drinking and driving. Result tables for each item on the survey are included in Appendix D.
There are several limitations in the interpretation of the public awareness findings. First, the surveys were conducted through MVA offices, which include a much broader segment of the driving population than the specific target audience most likely to be aware of and affected by the Extra Eyes program. Further, as mentioned previously, the Extra Eyes program began in November 2002 (almost three years prior to the implementation of the evaluation); thus, we evaluated the program retroactively, which has significant limitations. However, this approach was the most feasible within the constraints of the project.
6Checkpoint Strikeforce is a region-wide continuous checkpoint based DUI enforcement program in NHTSA's Mid-Atlantic Region ( Delaware , Maryland , Pennsylvania , Virginia, West Virginia , and the District of Columbia.)