States Start Efforts To Address Drunken Driving Among Hispanics
States such as Arizona, Colorado, North Carolina and Tennessee are conducting campaigns to reduce alcohol-related highway fatalities and injuries among Hispanics, USA Today reports. In North Carolina, 7.04% of Hispanics involved in car accidents in 2005 were suspected of driving while intoxicated, compared with 2.82% of whites and 2.29% of blacks, according to the University of North Carolina's Highway Safety Research Center. Eric Rodgman, a researcher at the center, a researcher at the center, said that most of the Hispanic drivers allegedly involved in alcohol-related car accidents are young men. Nationally, federal data show that 47% of Hispanic crash deaths are alcohol-related, compared with 40% for the general population. Raul Caetano, a regional dean at the University of Texas School of Public Health, said that national data on whether drivers had been arrested on drunken-driving charges within the last 12 months show whites and Hispanics have roughly equal rates. He also said that his research has shown higher rates of drunken driving among Hispanics born in the U.S. rather than among immigrants. In North Carolina, an effort called "Nuestra Seguridad" raises alcohol and drunken driving awareness through a media campaign, DWI checkpoints and publishing the names of Hispanics arrested on drunken-driving charges in Spanish newspapers, USA Today reports. El Pueblo, a Hispanic not-for-profit group in Raleigh, also is working with the North Carolina Governor's Highway Safety Program to increase awareness of the issue. Antonio Asion, public safety director for the group, said that anti-drunken-driving efforts targeted at Hispanics must take cultural barriers into account. He added, "If you're drinking and you can't drive because you're inebriated, you're saying you can't handle your alcohol. Your machismo then kicks in, and you don't let anybody else drive, especially not a woman. That's why the designated-driving thing doesn't work." Jose Gonzalez, executive director of Tennessee-based Conexion Americas, said many Hispanic immigrants lack an awareness about drunken driving, adding, "These immigrants, when they come to the United States and are able to purchase a car, they don't have this drunk-driving message in their paradigm. They've never been exposed to these constant messages" (Copeland, USA Today, 4/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.