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CARS, a tool to fight drunk driving, makes progress

On Wednesday, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility hosted a briefing to share the progress on the Computerized Assessment and Referral System (CARS) project. Researched and designed by Dr. Howard Shaffer and Dr. Sarah Nelson of the Division on Addictions at the Cambridge Health Alliance, a teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, the CARS tool will make it possible for DUI offenders to be effectively screened  for alcohol and drugs well as underlying psychiatric disorders, allowing for targeted interventions to address comorbid mental health issues.

Ultimately, it will be instrumental in preventing fatalities due to drunk drivers—especially those caused by repeat offenders and drivers with a BAC higher than .15.

At the briefing, held at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, Drs. Shaffer and Nelson updated public safety and health officials on the progress they have made since their last DC briefing in 2011.

During the last two years, the CARS project team has continued to modify and refine the tool and completed usability trials at 9 DUI sites in Massachusetts among DUI treatment providers and clients, with the implementation phase of the research slated to begin later this year. 

Attendees at the briefing and those who watched online were able to see the program in action when Drs. Shaffer and Nelson demonstrated the CARS tool and talked about the steps needed for it to be used nationwide.

The next phase of the CARS research project involves testing CARS as a brief intervention tool; stay tuned for future updates as the project continues. View the briefing below.