An Evidence-Based Practice
In 1987 the Massachusetts Governor’s Highway Safety Bureau and the Commonwealth Fund of New York launched the Saving Lives program and offered funding for Massachusetts communities to undertake comprehensive, multi-strategy programs to reduce alcohol-impaired driving and related problems such as speeding, other moving violations, and failure to wear safety belts. Six communities were selected to receive funding. Each program community organized a task force made up of concerned private citizens, organizations, and officials representing various city departments. The communities—not State or Federal agencies—developed most of the program initiatives. To reduce drunk driving and speeding, communities introduced media campaigns, business information programs, speeding and drunk-driving awareness days, speed-watch telephone hot lines, police training, high school peer-led education, Students Against Drunk Driving chapters, college prevention programs, alcohol-free prom nights, beer keg registration, and increased surveillance of liquor outlets. To increase pedestrian safety and seat belt use, program communities implemented media campaigns and police checkpoints, posted crosswalk signs warning motorists of fines for failure to yield to pedestrians, added crosswalk guards, and offered preschool education programs and training for hospital and prenatal clinic staff.
Goal / Mission
The goal of this program was to improve transportation safety in Massachusetts.
Results / Accomplishments
This program was evaluated using a quasi-experimental design comparing Saving Lives cities with the rest of Massachusetts. In Saving Lives cities, fatal crashes declined from a total of 178 during the 5 preprogram years to 120 during the 5 program years, a 25% fatal crash reduction when compared to the rest of the state (p = 0.02). During the same period, fatal crashes that involved alcohol in program cities declined by 42% relative to Massachusetts (p = 0.01) and the number of fatally injured drivers with high blood–alcohol levels showed a decline 51% greater than the state (p = 0.01). Furthermore, the number of fatal crashes involving drivers 15 to 25 years of age declined by 54% more than the rest of the state (p < 0.01). The number of fatal crashes that involved speeding drivers dropped by 27% more than the state, and the number of pedestrian fatalities declined by 18% greater than elsewhere in Massachusetts, but these declines were not statistically significant. Safety belt use increased in program cities at a rate 17% greater than that of the rest of the state (p < 0.01). The proportion of vehicles observed traveling at 10 or more miles over the speed limit declined at a 43% greater rate than in comparison areas (p < 0.001). The proportion of 16- to 19-year-olds who reported driving after drinking in the month prior to the interview declined at a 40% greater rate relative to the rest of Massachusetts (p < 0.01).
About this Promising Practice
- Primary Contact
- Ralph Hingson, Sc.D.
Director, Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research
5635 Fishers Lane, Room 2077
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Bethesda, MD 20892–1705
Public Safety / Transportation Safety
Transportation / Personal Vehicle Travel
Health / Substance Abuse
- Massachusetts Governor’s Highway Safety Bureau, Commonwealth Fund of New Yor
- American Journal of Public Health
- Date of publication
- Date of implementation
- For more details