Deterrent effects of roadblocks on drinking and driving

Williams, Allan F. / Lund, Adrian K.
Traffic Safety Evaluation Research Review
November/December 1984

The study was designed to determine the extent to which roadblocks (or "sobriety checkpoints") change public perceptions of the enforcement of drunk driving laws and behavior related to drinking and driving. Two areas with active roadblock programs were studied: Montgomery County in Maryland, and Kent and Sussex counties in Delaware. Montgomery was also compared to adjacent Fairfax County, Virginia, which has had a few unpublicized roadblocks, but has a much higher drunk driving arrest rate than Montgomery. The Delaware counties were compared to seven counties on the nearby Maryland Eastern Shore, where roadblocks have not been held. The data were collected via a telephone survey. Results indicated that roadblocks are highly visible. They were the most frequently mentioned activity when respondents in the four areas were asked if they knew about any nearby activities designed to deal with the problem of drunk driving. More than three-quarters of Montgomery County and Delaware respondents were aware of roadblocks in their county. In areas both with and without active roadblock programs, respondents tended to identify the area with roadblocks as the place where drunk drivers would be more likely to be arrested. The limited evidence from self-reported behaviorial measures does not indicate that the roadblocks have changed the drinking and driving behavior of the respondents. Further research is needed.

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