Key Investigator: Dr. Fred Rivara, MD, MPH
Funding Source: Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
In 2005, the Harborview Injury Prevention & Research Center in partnership with King County Public Health Violence and Injury Prevention division, received a $1 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention to develop and evaluate a designated driver and safe ride home program for Seattle. The funding was to test whether designated drivers and safe-ride-home programs reduce the number of alcohol-related deaths from crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, alcohol was involved in 45 percent of fatal crashes in Washington in 2005.
The program, dubbed Last Call, targeted the neighborhoods of Belltown, Fremont, Pioneer Square and the University District — areas of the city where more impaired driving incidents involving 21-34 year olds originate. In a telephone survey of 21- to 34-year-olds conducted by Last Call, Fremont was named one of the most popular neighborhoods to drink in Seattle, second to Capitol Hill. Nearly one out of five Seattle drinkers in that age group also reported they drove after drinking too much in the past month.
In December 2008, data released by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission showed that deaths from car crashes by impaired drivers decreased dramatically in 2007. Impaired driving deaths, which include drivers under the influence of alcohol or other substances, declined 40% to 32 deaths. The previous four-year average was 53 deaths. Speed-related fatalities also dropped significantly in 2007, by 27%, to 38 deaths from an average of 52 over the previous four years.