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Missouri’s Open Container Policies Make Roads More Dangerous

Unlike most of the country, and despite evidence on roadway safety, Missouri lets passengers drink in moving vehicles. Dr. Thomas Greenfield of PHI’s Alcohol Research Group comments to KCUR radio on the state policy and the rationale for banning open containers in vehicles.

  • KCUR Kansas City Public Radio

As a penalty for ignoring federal safety laws, Missouri has diverted millions of dollars in road construction funds to safety programs. But critics say the state’s open container policies make roads more dangerous.

Unlike most of the country — and despite evidence on roadway safety — the state lets passengers drink in moving vehicles.

This unusual policy comes at a cost beyond the added risks on roads. An investigation by KCUR found that, since 2001, Missouri has given up roughly $370 million in highway construction funds for failing to comply with federal safety policies.

In 1998, Congress established federal standards prohibiting open containers of alcohol, as part of the wide-ranging “Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century.” Safety researchers have found that enforcement of open container restrictions reduces drinking and driving by 17%.

Thomas Greenfield
The whole idea behind no open containers is actually to reduce distraction, drinking, and [it’s] very difficult to determine whether it’s the passenger or the driver.

Dr. Tom Greenfield, scientific and executive director of PHI’s Alcohol Research Group.

Click below to read the full story from KCUR Kansas City Public Radio.

Originally published by KCUR Kansas City Public Radio

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