Massachusetts Saving Lives


Targeting alcohol-related traffic incidents, the Massachusetts Saving Lives program combines community organization efforts with enforcement of underage drinking laws, community events, communication campaigns, environmental modifications, and focused education/trainings.


  • To influence community attitudes and beliefs about alcohol-impaired and other risky driving practices and the risk of getting caught for such practices
  • To limit commercial and social availability of alcohol to underage youth

Typical Elements

  • A full-time community coordinator to facilitate program implementation (Hingson, McGovern, Howland, & Heeren, 1996).
  • A task force of private citizens, local organizations, and community leaders representing different city departments (e.g., school, police, health) to collaborate with the coordinator and develop program initiatives (Hingson et al., 1996).
    • Note: Of the six cities in the original demonstration project, task force membership averaged 50 organizations per city.
  • ​Enforcement of relevant laws, including minimum age of alcohol purchase, sale, and server laws; minors in possession of alcohol laws; and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limits (also see Shults et al., 2009).
  • Implementation of compliance checks or alcohol purchase surveys.
  • Citizen contributions: In the original demonstration project, citizens organized to (Hingson et al., 1996):
    • Increase the number of police hours spent enforcing minimum drinking age laws and BAC limits
    • Support police training to implement enforcement strategies designed to curb underage drinking and driving while intoxicated (such as those below)
    • Implement and enforce beer keg registration laws to limit commercial and social availability of alcohol
    • Increase liquor outlet surveillance by police to reduce underage alcohol purchase
    • Advertise and implement sobriety checkpoints to deter alcohol impaired driving (as well as promote seat belt use in cars)
  • Community events designed to influence public perceptions related to alcohol service and consumption. In the original demonstration project, citizens organized to (Hingson et al., 1996):
    • Conduct informational meetings with the business community
    • Hold speeding and drunk driving awareness days
    • Set up and monitor telephone hotlines to field citizen reports of speeding
    • Promote alcohol-free prom nights
    • Introduce alcohol education in schools with peer-led activities
    • Sponsor a local Students Against Drunk Driving chapter
  • Media advocacy to encourage local news outlets to explain trends in alcohol-related traffic incidents and to publicize selected strategies for preventing and reducing traffic injuries and deaths (Hingson et al., 1996; also see Shults et al., 2009). 
  • Modifications to the physical environment to promote pedestrian safety. In the original demonstration project, citizens organized to (Hingson et al., 1996):
    • Post crosswalk signs warning motorists of fines for failure to yield to pedestrians
    • Add crosswalk guards
  • Education and training programs for various audiences (e.g., Preschool education programs and trainings for hospital and prenatal staff on the correct use of child safety seats in cars) (Hingson et al., 1996).


  • Youth under age 21
  • Key intermediaries or populations responsible for delivering key intervention components (e.g., law enforcement officials, preschool teachers, hospital and prenatal staff)


Relative to the rest of Massachusetts, Saving Lives communities demonstrated greater (Hingson et al., 1996):

  • Reductions in fatal crashes involving drivers aged 15 to 25
  • Reductions in reported driving after drinking among drivers aged 16 to19
  • Increases in awareness of driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while intoxicated (DWI) laws and sanctions for teenage offenders
  • Increases in awareness of speeding sanctions among teenagers


The Massachusetts Saving Lives Program: Six Cities


The Community Guide: Motor Vehicle Injury - Alcohol-Impaired Driving: Multicomponent Interventions with Community Mobilization

Motor Vehicle-Related Injury Prevention: Reducing Alcohol-Impaired Driving


Hingson, R., McGovern, T., Howland, J., & Heeren, T. (1996). Reducing alcohol-impaired driving In Massachusetts: The Saving Lives program. American Journal of Public Health, 86(6), 791–797.

Shults, R. A., Elder, R. W., Nichols, J. L., Sleet, D. A., Compton, R., &. Chattopadhyay, S. K. (2009). Effectiveness of multicomponent programs with community mobilization for reducing alcohol-impaired driving. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 37(4), 360–71.