In anticipation of the Fourth of July holiday, some counties in Michigan are trying a unique approach. Urinals in 10 bars and restaurants are being outfitted with an audio device that asks patrons to call a cab or a friend if they are too drunk to drive – and to wash their hands.
The audio device in the urinal cakes is outfitted with a woman’s voice. This is probably because research indicates that men and women both prefer female voices, possibly because of evolutionary purposes.
The unveiling of one such a device took place Monday at Goog’s Pub and Grub. The restaurant was one of 10 local establishments in Ottawa, Bay, Wayne, and Delta counties piloting the feature in collaboration with Michigan’s Licensed Beverage Association and law enforcement agencies.
During the Fourth of July weekend last year, eight people died in traffic collisions in Michiagan. Three of those people were drunk. In total, 319 people died last year due to impaired driving caused by alcohol or drugs. These fatalities account for over a third of traffic accident fatalities and while that number is down from 2010, but law enforcement officials say that it is still too much.
The program is currently only targeting men. While the actual reason as outlined by the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department was not given, according to statistics furnished by a 2008 paper written at Washington State University, men are arrested at a far greater rate for drunk driving than women are. Men are currently responsible for 80 percent of traffic collisions caused by drunk driving. Overall, drunk driving rates are down since 1982 although women’s drunk driving rates have increased. The amount of alcoholic beverages that impaired drivers are drinking has increased in recent years.
In addition to the new program using urinal cakes, police in the area, and in municipalities across the country, are also increasing their security presence throughout the week. They stress that drunk drivers will be arrested. The penalties for charges of drunk driving can be serious. States may penalize those charged with driving under the influence with fees, jail time, and license suspension.