Alcohol-related vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for Hispanics between the ages of 1 and 44, and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has been trying to do something about that for the past year.
The highway safety office discussed its year-old “Pass the Keys, Pasa Las Llaves” campaign, targeted at Hispanic motorists, during a news conference Thursday at University Medical Center.
Those attending included Tucson Catholic Bishop Gerald Kicanas; Richard Fimbres, director of the highway safety office; Carlos Flores Vizcarra, of the Mexican Consulate; and UMC trauma surgeon Dr. Rifat Latifi.
Hispanic communities are exposed to five times as many alcohol advertisements as predominantly Anglo communities, the highway safety office said in a statement.
In 2004, 5,169 Hispanics were killed in traffic crashes in the United States, 47 percent of which were alcohol-related, compared with 39 percent of crashes for the general population, the statement said.
The focus of the Pass the Keys campaign is on the family and the consequences of drunken driving, according to the statement.
Surveys done as part of the past year’s campaign have shown a 17 percent reduction in DUI-related crashes in Tucson among the general population since the program started, and a 25 percent decrease in the number of Tucsonans reporting they have driven within two hours of drinking alcohol, said Sean Hammond, a spokesman for the highway safety office.
Also, he said, 13 percent more Tucsonans than before the campaign’s start say they have seen an increase in anti-drunken driving enforcement efforts.