Drunks on the road

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.)