Janet Creaser, Research Fellow, Mechanical Engineering
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety's operation NightCAP (Concentrated Alcohol Patrol) is an overtime enforcement program which uses saturation patrols to identify impaired drivers. This research project, designed to evaluate NightCAP, consisted of three tasks: a crash data analysis, a driver survey, and an officer survey. The crash analysis indicated that saturation patrols have a marginal statistically significant effect on the decrease in fatal and severe-injury alcohol-related crash rates in Minnesota. The effect of a single saturation is small (about 0.1 percent), indicating that many patrols would be needed to see significant decreases in alcohol-related crash rates. Meanwhile, a survey of 5,000 Minnesota drivers in six countries resulted in 838 completed surveys. Responses showed that approximately 19 percent of Minnesota drivers are aware of the program, and that drivers' beliefs about impaired driving influenced their perception of alcohol-enforcement programs and their choices about whether to drive after drinking. Fourteen program coordinators and 86 law enforcement officers from the program also responded to a survey and shared their perceptions about the program's effectiveness. The main conclusions drawn from the surveys were that saturation patrols are not highly visible to the public, and the current program advertising is not very effective in communities where it is active. The primary recommendations from the research were to improve the patrol visibility and associated advertising.