It's established fact that the upper Midwest can -- and does -- outdrink the rest of the nation. And one out of three high school students binge drinks, so it's not a problem that's going to disappear anytime soon.
What happens to all these people? They get in their cars. A government report out today says the upper Midwest has the worst drunk driving rates in the country. Nationally, nearly one out of 6 drivers on the road has driven drunk in the last year.
Wisconsin -- and this will knock you over with a feather -- is the worst with more than a quarter of the adult drivers reporting they've driven drunk. North Dakota is #2, Minnesota 3, Nebraska 4 and South Dakota rounds out the top five.
"It's not surprising, but it means that these jurisdictions should take this data and think about how they approach public education campaigns and enforcement campaigns," said Dr. H. Westley Clark of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.
Another expert, Eric Goplerud, research professor at George Washington
University Medical Center, cites cultural and demographic issues for the high rates of drunk driving in these parts. He said strong religion in the southeast discourages drinking, which perhaps is a slap at the heathens in this neck of the woods.
This area, the experts say, is also suspect because of its predominantly white racial makeup. Blacks, they say, drink at substantially lower rates than whites.
(Posting will be light this morning; I'm speaking to a journalism class at the U and then will hunker down on stuff later.)
I honestly don't understand why drinking is so important to people.
It didn't surprise me that Utah had the lowest rates of drunk driving, but it DID surprise me that even Utah had 10% of people saying they had driven drunk in the last year. What is wrong with us? Don't we have any will power?
The theory is that it's part of the socialization process here to a degree it isn't elsewhere. There was an interesting story in a Wisconsin paper a few years ago that documented the significance of the German immigrant in terms of having the local brewery being the center of a particular community, whereas in the deep south, for example, it might be a church.
Elements of that, apparently, have filtered from generation to generation, even though there aren't many breweries anymore.
I would attribute the high rates of drunk driving in the country as a whole to the pathetic sentences for drunk driving. Drunk driving should be treated as the crime it is: attempted murder. There should be mandatory prison time for first offenses. This is a completely avoidable crime.
It never made much sense to me why a drunk who kills someone is sentenced more severely than one who doesn't. The difference is purely the result of dumb luck.
Only a quarter driving drunk in WI. Clearly my extended family is more than keeping up its end of that stat. I came to MN to escape them. With the high rates in MN, I guess I didn't go far enough!
As a society, we put a barrier around Bad Things, to protect people who are not yet old enough to understand the consequences of these Bad Things. Sex. Drugs. Porn. Alcohol. Driving.
We tell children "some things are for grown-ups; you're not a grown-up, therefore you can't have it." When kids realize they want to be grown-ups, they start seeking the outer trappings of adulthood. Including alcohol. They seek these things without an adult's understanding of responsibility and consequences.
They don't understand that having these things doesn't make you an adult. Adult behavior needs to extend past responsibile drinking.
Why don't they have that understanding?
We, as a society, have failed in our responsibility to educate about the consequences. The full panoply of adult behavior isn't given sufficient emphasis. It's like holding a piece of candy over a kid's head and dangling it to see if she can jump high enough to grab it. Eventually she will. Then we're surprised that they value it disproportionately due to our enticement?
While the alcohol manufacturers are certainly engaging in grooming a new generation of customers (just like all marketing for every other product), we cannot simply lay the blame at their doorstep. We don't teach our children enough.
My husband and I drink at home. We usually have a glass of wine with dinner. A glass = 1. Our kids know that grown ups drink wine and kids don't. When they're 12 or 13, I'll offer them a little bit at the big holidays (Christmas & Easter). A little bit = 2 oz. or so. Of course, by the time they're 9 or so, they'll start going to communion at Mass, and get to taste it anyway. We take the time to ensure there no mysterious allure of it. I'm 42 and I've been slightly drunk once, when I was about 26 or so. I've no desire to do so.
Growing up in a home where getting drunk is normal presents the picture to kids that getting drunk is normal.
And, along with the understanding that adults are required to behave differently with different responsibilities, ... We must spend more time teaching our children how to resist peer pressure. Because that's the other route to underage drinking.
None of this is easy. Being a parent isn't easy. Creating a responsible, safe society isn't easy either.
And apparently finding a designated driver in Minnesota isn't easy either.
Could it be that folks in the upper midwest are just more honest about their self-reporting?
I think a lot of it has to do with lack of public transportation available here in the Midwest yes there are other factors a big one being personal responsibility. However, looking at the top states on the list few have any large cities with good mass transit especially at 2 am. I have been on the East and West coasts at bar close and found it easy to get home with a couple of bucks and a little walking. In the Midwest the opposite is often true.
It isn't necessarily a plug for mass transit (but I do fully support it) because lets face it not every town in rural MN, WI, ND, NE etc can support it but possibly an explanation for why we are at the top.
This news item is based on a NSDUH study:
The study polled people on their behavior, and its results are a little confusing when compared to records of automobile crashes.
In February the NHTSA released a compilation of car crash fatalities involving alcohol impairment.
Figure 1 in both studies is a map of the US showing rates by state, and they are very different.
For example, Minnesota is highlighted in the NSDUH study as a high driving impaired state, but in the NHTSA study it has one of the lowest fatality rates. Another example is the low impaired driving rate for southeast USA states in the NSDUH study contrasted to the high fatality rates in the NHTSA study.
It seems that reported driving after drinking produces very different results from state to state. Do drunk Minnesotans drive safer than impaired Cheeseheads (an oxymoron)? Maybe Minnesotans are hardier and better able to survive a drunk driving wreck! So many questions ...
One should also note the underlying statistics.
25% of the Wisconsin population is much, much less than 25% California population.
So, while the percentage might be higher, the actual number of drinking-driving people might be much, much lower.
This is even more noticeable when one looks at South Dakota, the entire state - drunk or sober - has a population less than Los Angeles County.
But it doesn't change the fact that the percentage of our drivers who are drunk are higher than the percentage of drunk drivers in California.
i think they just smoke pot in cali