FOR IMMEDIATE RELASE
September 19, 2016
Contact: Jon Ebelt, Public Information Officer, DPHHS, (406) 444-0936
Chuck Council, Communications Specialist, DPHHS, (406) 444-4391
Stop DUIs Before They Start Conference is September 19-21
About 110 Montana drug and alcohol prevention specialists and county DUI Task Force members will gather September 19-21 at Fairmont Hot Springs Resort for a three day conference that will focus on the challenging issue of preventing DUIs in Montana.
The Stop DUIs Before They Start conference brings together experts in the field from three state agencies and various local communities who will collaborate on ways to address this important public health issue.
Montana Department of Transportation (MDT) Director Mike Tooley said this type of collaboration among various partners is critical. “If we are going to eliminate impaired driving in Montana, we need help from every Montanan,” Tooley said. “Events like these are valuable in expanding the circle beyond law enforcement, the courts, and MDT. We need to engage everyone we can to prevent deaths and injuries caused by impaired drivers.”
About one in three traffic deaths in the United States involve a drunk driver. According to the 2012 Behavioral Rick Factor Surveillance System, 3.4 percent of Montanans report driving after drinking too much in the last 30 days compared to 1.9 percent nationally.
In 2015, there were a total of 129 fatalities and 332 serious injuries where an impaired driver was involved. This is 4.6% more than the previous five year (2010-2014) average. The top five counties for impaired driver-involved fatalities and serious injuries in 2015 were Flathead, Missoula, Yellowstone, Gallatin and Cascade.
Officials from the Department of Public Health and Human Services and the Department of Revenue will also participate, along with numerous local community partners, such as DUI Task Force members, law enforcement and Tribal representatives.
The event includes an appearance from nationally known prevention scientist and educator Dr. David Hawkins, who will address the group with a presentation entitled the ‘Unleashing the Power of Prevention”.
According to DPHHS Director Richard Opper, the conference addresses the need for partnership and the development of skills to work together and address DUIs from a prevention science point of view. “When prevention specialists and DUI task forces collaborate this ensures an effective use of human and fiscal resources with the goal of stopping DUIs,” Opper said. “As we move towards a public health approach to prevention in the state of Montana, it becomes important to focus on how two distinct systems can provide a framework and funding that supports the reduction of DUI rates in our communities.”
DPHHS Prevention Resource Center Director Vicki Turner said conference attendees will also have the opportunity to hear from successful community partners around the state, before being connected with their own respective local partners. “These local partners will then be able to assess their own local data together, and plan how to address their own individual needs once they return home,” she said.
The conference, sponsored by the Interagency Coordinating Council (ICC) for State Prevention Programs, offers topics including the science of prevention and application, strategies for effective community engagement and linking with law enforcement.
According to DOR Director Mike Kadas, the conference is made possible by a grant from the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association. “We are proud to join the effort to reduce impaired driving in our state,” Kadas said. “We are fortunate to co-sponsor this conference through the department’s liquor education program and help promote responsible beverage service in Montana.”