It’s estimated that about 40 million people will be traveling this Memorial Day weekend to reach their vacation destinations or backyard barbecues — the highest number of travelers in 12 years. But congested highways won’t be the only thing aggravating drivers. Police across the country will once again be relying on sobriety checkpoints to catch drunken drivers.
While we all want drunks off the road, checkpoints are ineffective and a poor use of traffic safety resources. For example, a sobriety checkpoint in California earlier this month stopped over 1,500 drivers but made only one DUI arrest. And another in Ohio caught zero. These low success rates are unfortunately a common occurrence across the country.
The lack of results isn’t surprising. The locations and times of these DUI checkpoints are publicly available across a wide range of media platforms like local television stations, newspapers, social media or even smartphone apps. And since flashing lights and traffic jams that are associated with checkpoints can be seen from far away, it’s not difficult for a drunken driver to avoid these locations and take an alternate route.
Instead of using valuable traffic safety resources on ineffective enforcement methods, police should use roving or saturation patrols that have been proven to actively target dangerous drunken drivers without creating a legion of frustrated travelers. That way, Memorial Day drivers can arrive to their destinations safely and headache-free.
Sarah Longwell, Washington, D.C.
The writer is managing director of the American Beverage Institute.