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Common Vision Coalition: Case Study for Implementing a Comprehensive Plan to Reduce Impaired Driving

Common Vision Coalition (CVC) has been engaging community members and youth in locally-led efforts to create a healthier community in Redlands, California. The coalition’s assessment of local data showed that as a result of underage drinking, impaired driving was one of the most prevalent issues in their community. In an effort to address this problem, CVC developed partnerships between various city departments and other key stakeholders.

A major priority was to successfully advocate for local substance abuse policy changes. The coalition worked to adopt a social host ordinance, synthetic drug ordinance, deemed approved ordinance and implementation of the Responsible Redlands Initiative. Through these efforts, CVC established key partnerships with law enforcement. CVC also enhanced responsible beverage service practices with the support of Redlands University, thus decreasing the number of venues where youth obtained alcohol. This multisector approach created a safer and healthier environment for Redlands families and youth.

Local data suggests that ease of access to alcohol in social and retail settings was one of the main reasons for impaired driving in Redlands. According to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC), currently there are 154 licensed alcohol establishments throughout the city. Other research suggests that “[…] outlet densities may directly affect the way young people obtain alcohol,”[1] a finding reflected in the local student survey where 57 percent of 11th-graders said it was very easy to obtain alcohol.[2] Youth are likely to distribute easily-obtained alcohol to peers, possibly leading to binge drinking behaviors.

The prevalence of this issue was especially evident in Redlands, where the school district includes four high schools servicing two cities, three unincorporated areas and the University of Redlands. With such a high concentration of youth, underage drinking parties became a common occurrence. Given that “young drivers who drink have the greatest risk of dying in an alcohol-impaired crash,”[3] binge and underage drinking were identified as the root causes of impaired driving in this community.

To identify areas with large numbers of alcohol outlets, the coalition collected DUI arrest, Place of Last Drink (POLD), alcohol outlet density, and call for service data, as well as information from key informant interviews. They also relied on the support of local, state and national data to inform their efforts. Using local POLD data, the coalition identified hot spot locations with high impaired driving rates – 67 percent of those arrested for DUI had their last drink in a bar or restaurant primarily located in the downtown area,[4] which is the only entertainment district in the East Valley region of San Bernardino County. This entertainment district is oversaturated with alcohol outlets and over-service, resulting in easy access to alcohol. The coalition also obtained a call-for-service data report by the Redlands Police Department; from 2011 to 2012 the police department reported a total of 2,803 alcohol related calls-for-service. The report highlighted top 10 repeat offender locations in Redlands, many of which were residences for University of Redlands students.

In view of this data, CVC conducted key stakeholder interviews with representatives from the Redlands Unified School District and University of Redlands to identify high risk times when underage drinking took place. This information was essential for developing successful prevention strategies for youth, since according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “the rate of fatal crashes among alcohol-involved drivers between 16 and 20 years old is more than twice the rate for alcohol-involved drivers 21 and older.”[5]

In March 2012 Redlands adopted a social host ordinance aimed at reducing house parties where underage drinking occurred. The coalition organized several canvassing events to strategically target neighborhoods with top 10 repeat offender locations to distribute social host ordinance door hangers. The coalition also partnered with several key stakeholders in the community to ensure that the information was reaching intended target audiences, including the University of Redlands, Redlands Unified School District, faith-based organizations and other local community groups. With the implementation of the social host ordinance, law enforcement gained authority to issue citations to the hosts of underage drinking parties. Funds from citations, in turn, provided additional resources for the police department.

CVC also connected with the Redlands Unified School District to distribute social host ordinance information to high school students and their parents. As a result, flyers that display fines associated with ordinance violations have been posted in all high school classrooms, offices and district offices. Automated calls highlighting the social host ordinance were also utilized, targeting parents of all graduating seniors during graduation week; they were conducted in collaboration with the Redlands Police Department.  The University of Redlands was a strong higher education partner for CVC in the Responsible Neighbors Campaign. This initiative focused on informing university students living off-campus about local alcohol laws and enforcement operations, as well as educating them on being responsible neighbors.

Additionally, CVC sought to engage Redland’s the Latino community in this underage drinking initiative by identifying local leaders – including health workers – who would and in fact, did, conduct workshops on the dangers of binge and underage drinking. The goal of these workshops was to reduce impaired driving among this community.

Furthermore, CVC partnered with the Redlands Police Department to develop the Responsible Redlands Initiative, an umbrella campaign bringing together compliance enforcement, outreach, media and trainings. The Responsible Redlands Initiative increased the community’s awareness of alcohol enforcement efforts and created stronger partnerships between the police department and local alcohol establishments, particularly in the downtown area. The coalition supported the police department in all alcohol enforcement operations and trainings – Responsible Beverage Service training – by reaching out to alcohol retailers. These outreach efforts resulted in the highest turnouts the police department has received. The Institute for Public Strategies (IPS) also conducted a series of enforcement trainings to all patrol officers regarding best practices. Thus, as an additional measure, the police department now uses foot and bicycle patrols in the downtown area to:

  • Deter negative alcohol-related issues
  • Successfully ensure high visibility
  • Help reduce impairment

In February 2015, Redlands adopted a deemed approved ordinance (DAO) to address and prevent over-service and other nuisance-related activities by requiring responsible beverage services (RBS) training among other performance standards. According to the police department, the DAO and Responsible Redlands Initiative fostered a better relationship between businesses and law enforcement, which contributed to a reduction in alcohol-related incidents. The police department has also seen an increase in businesses accepting their responsibility in preventing over-service and sales to minors, which had not been the case before these efforts.

In addition, the University of Redlands implemented a RBS training program at the beginning of the 2015-2016 academic school year. All students who applied for party permits (if alcohol was available) were required to complete the training on an annual basis. This was made possible through CVC’s partnerships with various stakeholders within the university, such as the IPS, which provided assistance in the form of best responsible beverage training practices. To aid in the coalition’s efforts, the IPS also provided data, research, capacity building and media access.

To recap, successful partnerships established between CVC and local stakeholders resulted in positive community-level outcomes, including:

  • Reduction in alcohol related calls-for-service
  • Better relationships between alcohol retailers and the police department
  • Increased participation in RBS trainings by alcohol retailers
  • Increased community awareness of the social host ordinance

All of these outcomes have had a direct correlation with the reduction in impaired driving incidences in Redlands. The Redlands Police Department, for example, experienced a 31 percent decrease in calls-for-service. According to a department commander, this decrease gives back 42 percent of time to a full-time police officer, which now can be used to address other needs within the community.

CVC played an essential role in reducing impaired driving through a comprehensive approach,  which identified and addressed alcohol availability with target specific strategies. The coalition’s work with social host ordinance implementation demonstrates a sustainable approach to informing the community about alcohol distribution and public safety responsibilities. CVC’s partnership with law enforcement also encourages individual responsibility by enforcing the importance of issuing citations for impaired driving. Collaboration with multiple sectors within the education system, local businesses, law enforcement, and researchers generated widespread involvement in addressing the community’s impaired driving challenges. CVC’s exemplary efforts provide a strong model for other coalitions who are also working to create safe and healthy communities .

[1] Treno, A. J., Ponicki, W. R., Remer, L. G., & Gruenewald, P. J. (2008). Alcohol Outlets, Youth Drinking and Self-Reported Ease of Access to Alcohol: A Constraints and Opportunities Approach. Alcoholism, Clinical and Experimental Research, 32(8), 1372–1379. http://doi.org/10.1111/j.1530-0277.2008.00708.x

[2] California Healthy Kids Survey. 2009.

[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Policy Impact: Alcohol Impaired Driving. 2011

[4] Special Report: San Bernardino County Place of Last Drink Survey. 2013.

[5] National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Traffic Safety Facts 2000: Young Drivers. DOT HS–809–336. Washington, DC: NHTSA, 2001.