Members of Texas’ impaired driving task force met July 30, 2013, to develop and approve an impaired driving plan for the state. The statewide plan is required as part of the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act.
The recently enacted federal transportation legislation, MAP-21, made many changes to the way states receive highway safety grants. One of these changes requires mid-range states (defined as those who, in the last three calendar years of FARS data, have an impaired driving fatality rate between .31 and .59) such as Texas, to create a statewide impaired driving plan.
The plan must be created before the state can receive any funding from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The purpose of the plan is to provide a comprehensive strategy for preventing and reducing impaired driving behavior.
Melissa Walden, a research scientist at the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, manages the task force. She says it is a major component to addressing the impaired driving problem in Texas.
“Recent trends indicate improvement in the number of alcohol-related fatalities involving adults and those under the age of 21-years-old; however, it is important to recognize that Texas must continue to seek innovative and evidence-based solutions to address the problem of impaired driving.”
Texas’ Impaired Driving Task Force
What began as a loosely structured meeting has evolved over the last 10 years to create the current task force. The task force includes TxDOT subgrantees and other stakeholders not directly affiliated with TxDOT’s Traffic Safety Section.
The task force meets at least twice a year, and provides insight and guidance to TxDOT’s alcohol and other drug countermeasures program.
Members of the task force include representatives from law enforcement, prosecution, adjudication, prevention, advocacy, media development/communications, traffic safety, education, treatment, research, training, alcohol service, driver licensing, employers, administrative sanctioning, and public health/medical. The members represent different aspects of the impaired driving issue as well as the geographic and demographic diversity of the state.