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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pass on to your friends and relatives who drink and drive
This is sobering historical assessment of our love affair with drinking and driving. I wish I'd had this book twenty-five years ago as a starting point to discuss the subject intelligently with friends and family. Just so happens a relative used to go to the Pub every Weds night with the boys and get drunk. They'd then drive home under the impression that they were...
Published on January 18, 2012 by D Jones

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Public Health orientation for a history of drunk driving
No one approaches drunk driving policy in a vacuum. Each person has a background and a bias, and the most impressive part of this book is that Dr. Lerner is quite clear about his bias and then tries hard to craft a balanced history book that will help inform readers from other backgrounds. Dr. Lerner is an expert in public health issues, and he writes a passionate story...
Published on January 28, 2012 by Kurt Conner


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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Public Health orientation for a history of drunk driving, January 28, 2012
By 
Kurt Conner (South Hadley, MA USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 (Hardcover)
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No one approaches drunk driving policy in a vacuum. Each person has a background and a bias, and the most impressive part of this book is that Dr. Lerner is quite clear about his bias and then tries hard to craft a balanced history book that will help inform readers from other backgrounds. Dr. Lerner is an expert in public health issues, and he writes a passionate story of the way that drunk driving (and public perceptions of drunk driving, from media coverage to legislation) has had an impact on public health in the last hundred years. I had a hard time reading this book because of my own personal perspectives, but it does contain a wealth of information, organized in an effective way to tell the story of a nation that is failing to keep its people safe on the roads.

For the first few chapters of this book, Dr. Lerner shares horror stories of the early days of drunk driving, with outrageously lenient sentences for devastating crashes and a pervasive public attitude that drinking and driving wasn't a big deal. As someone born in 1980, I have never lived in a world without TV commercials and special episodes and school assemblies about the dangers of drunk driving, and I was shocked by the way the problem was first viewed. Dr. Lerner follows those stories with thorough chapters on the impact of MADD and related groups, along with the ways that policy objectives and legislation have shifted over the years. The book also has plenty of examples from the European Union to show other paths that have been taken in efforts to keep the roads safe. I learned a great deal from this book, so Dr. Lerner achieved his objective.

My main problems with the book come from its tone. Dr. Lerner approaches the problem as a public health concern, which he does justify with analogies and statistics, and he makes a good case that the most significant legislative advancements have come from those who share his perspective. I do not share that perspective, though, as I am a public defender. Like many (if not most) public defenders at the district court level in Massachusetts, I handle drunk driving cases on a regular basis - on any given day, the majority of my caseload may be drunk driving cases. As someone who drives in Massachusetts, I definitely have an interest in arriving at my destinations safely, and I agree that drunk driving is unsafe at a legally intolerable level. I lost two friends a few years ago, in a car accident where the driver had been drinking. Nevertheless, as a public defender, I also have a huge interest in making sure that people's rights are protected throughout the process of investigation and prosecution of a crime. I have a hard time reading a book in which Dr. Lerner makes (understandably) unapologetic remarks about sleazy defense lawyers getting their guilty clients off because, for example, there is reasonable doubt as to how accurate a breath test device is, or Dr. Lerner's open praise for mandatory sentences and license suspensions. (In my first draft of this review, I went off on a long tangent about how public health attitudes toward drunk driving are incompatible with the criminal justice system, but I realized that I do not want to invite an anonymous internet debate that distracts from my recommendations with respect to the book - please don't comment with your thoughts on drunk driving)

My point is that although the book does present multiple angles and perspectives as they relate to the impact of drunk driving in the States, Dr. Lerner is very clear that approaches that prioritize the rights of people accused of crimes are never more valuable than approaches that risk infringement of rights in the interest of saving lives. I suspect that very few people will take issue with that value judgment (defense attorneys, some industry lobbyists, probably many people who have been accused of drunk driving...), but I want to make sure that this ideological minority is given fair warning before choosing this book. To his credit, though, Dr. Lerner saves most of his bile for the outrages of the pre-MADD era, and by the time actual MADD representatives enter the story, the book sounds less like one of their pamphlets and more like a simple historical analysis.

I do recommend this book for historians and other scholars, as Dr. Lerner presents thorough research in a clear fashion. I simply reserve a little warning about the public health perspective.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pass on to your friends and relatives who drink and drive, January 18, 2012
By 
D Jones "DP Jones" (Alexandria, VA, USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 (Hardcover)
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This is sobering historical assessment of our love affair with drinking and driving. I wish I'd had this book twenty-five years ago as a starting point to discuss the subject intelligently with friends and family. Just so happens a relative used to go to the Pub every Weds night with the boys and get drunk. They'd then drive home under the impression that they were fine, and even so, their chance of getting arrested or causing a collision were nil. This went on for almost twenty years and they did beat the odds. The stats did catch up with them finally and they nearly caused their own death and that of an innocent driver who they collided with. This relative finally died of liver cancer from the drink. Today, if this relative were alive, I'd probably wait outside the pub and call the police when they tried to drive away.

For me and millions of others this subject is personal and not an abstract intellectual exercise. Get this book, read it, think about it, act upon it, and pas it on.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ironic title, interesting study, November 29, 2011
By 
L. Jonsson (Charleston, SC United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 (Hardcover)
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Barron Lerner's book "One for the Road" is a study of the politics, legal policies and procedures of dealing with intoxicated automobile drivers. To my knowledge it is the first academic study dedicated to analyzing the real cost-to the intoxicated driver, to society, and to the victims-of drinking and driving.

As an academic study this book is fascinating. Lerner starts by discussing popular and unpopular conceptions of the person who chooses to drink and drive. Lerner sites incidents of people who chose to drink and drive and their consequences. Initially their consequences are not very severe. Drinking and driving in the early part of the 20th century was seen as an activity done by the carefree and rich-the "Great Gatsby" lot. This did not change despite prohibition in the 1920s and 1930s-a time when Lerner states drinking and driving, with deadly consequences rose rapidly. Only some cases of drinking and driving with fatal consequences received media attention-such as that of Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone with the Wind, hit by a car operated by an intoxicated driver in 1949.

Consequences of drinking and driving increased in the late 1970s and 1980s. The establishment of MADD (Mothers against drunk drivers) and RID (Remove Intoxicated Drivers) increased laws and regulations around drinking and driving. Driving while intoxicated by society is now seen as something that needs to be punished, rather than as a source of humor (think Dudley Moore in the first "Arthur" movie).

As an alcohol and drug counselor who has worked with hundreds of impaired drivers in counseling, this book helped me see how social groups can cause laws to be changed. It also helped me see how perceptions of alcohol use while operating machinery/driving a vehicle has evolved over the years. I admit that I had never heard of the organization RID before, and I admire Doris Aiken for starting it (a person who was never had a family member be the victim of a drinking and driving accident). Reading about Candy Lightner (founder of MADD ) and Cindy Lamb (her daughter was paralyzed by a drunk driver at 5 months of age) really affected me.

This book offers no judgement on how drinking and driving should be handled by the law. It is simply a historical study of the phenominon of drinking and driving, and how policies and procedures to handle intoxicated drivers over the years have evolved. I highly recommend this book to anyone in my field who wants a historical perspective on how society and the law has handled drunk drivers over the years. I also recommend this book highly to anyone who is curious about the history of drunk driving, and movements created to establish laws concerning drunk driving.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Academic survey of the history of drunk driving, November 18, 2012
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This review is from: One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 (Hardcover)
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Dr. Barron H. Lerner takes on the daunting challenge of exposing the history America's love of drinking and driving. Both embody the individualism and freedom espoused by everything American. Both show the cultural evolution of the country and our social pastimes. And both also show our inability to see the danger to unchecked freedom when it becomes reckless or excessive.

Dr. Lerner's work takes us through the history of driving and how drinking became entwined in this new found freedom to create something dangerous. Dr. Lerner makes no subtle hints or gestures, he finds the practice to egregious, especially in the face of anecdotes and hard evidence to prove the deadly combination drinking and driving create, but he goes beyond just this obvious point to how this struggle threatens freedom, privacy, and personal responsibility.

Dr. Lerner goes through a variety of sources for discussion, but his main focus seems to be Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) and the anti-drinking and driving movement and its implications.

I found this book to be enlightening and sad. It is maddening to hear such tragedies, especially for something that is as preventable as driving while impaired. Dr. Lerner sets up a thorough and engaging history. I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in this subject matter. I also think this book would be excellent for an academic setting, or for research purposes. I highly recommend "One for the Road."
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important subject told with an academic flair!, November 13, 2011
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This review is from: One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 (Hardcover)
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As the author states throughout the text, although drunk driving is a serious cultural subject, little more can be done to alleviate the approximate 15k deaths/year attributed to it as long as we maintain our present level of social acceptance of drinking and driving.

The book is filled with facts and figures which is mainly why I feel it may be a slow read for many. It also takes somewhat of a moralistic view in the manner of AA, although not nearly as dire as proposing a definite set of 12 steps to alleviate the problem. This may be off-putting to some. I agree with the vast majority of tenets espoused in this book, but still the opinions expressed are not neutral, at least not in my interpretation.

A constant theme throughout is that an automobile crash in which alcohol was involved was not an accident, but is a willful choice made by a driver who feels he/she can beat the odds, which they normally can. We learn that the odds of getting caught short of having a crash are either 1/2000 to 1/2250 in another study. Another statistic mentioned is that one would have to drive a total of 600k miles in an inebriated state before one might be expected to cause a fatality to oneself or another; so one can see how most choose to play the odds. But then again the odds for most folks with revolvers playing Russian Roulette is 1/6, but when you lose, you truly lose.

The most interesting parts of the book were the chapters describing the intoxicated effects displayed by celebrities, politicians, and mere public officials caught driving drunk. One of the earliest casualties was Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind, run over by a drunk driver in Atlanta, who had 22 prior arrests, but no convictions. It should be stated that he was a cab driver and some of those arrests were while he was working; so much for taking a cab home after a night of drinking. All the more current paparazzi crowd noted for imbibing are also duly mentioned.

Another interesting part of the book told the heartbreaking stories of Doris Aiken, who founded RID plus Candy Lightner and Cindi Lamb who joined together to found MADD and just a few years later both began working for two different branches of the liquor industry. A good explanation of how the breathalyzer came about to help alleviate the early arrests without consummate convictions made solely on subjective roadside sobriety tests.

Although the subject matter is very serious and I have no doubt of the author's sincerity in presenting it, I had trouble giving it more than 3 stars due to the rather academic manner of it portrayal. I still feel the subject manner is important and worthwhile and presented in only 180pp of the main text, just don't expect a page turner.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Important and worth the time, November 4, 2011
This review is from: One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 (Hardcover)
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Some months ago, I was tripping along through a different book, Everything is Obvious, thinking it a great read and highly informative, until I got to the chapter about Fairness and Justice, in which the author discusses the case of a police officer who was sentenced to 15 years incarceration for accidentally killing 4 people while driving drunk. The author of Everything is Obvious argues that this is not a fair sentence because not everyone who drives drunk is a criminal. In his words, "it seems grossly disproportionate to treat every otherwise decent, honest person who has ever had a few too many drinks and driven home as a criminal and a killer." I'll take up this argument further in my review of EiO.)

Please note: problems with parentheses have been raised with Amazon. This reviewer gets them right but Amazon keeps losing them.

I was stopped in my tracks. I could not read any farther. I could not begin to think how I could review that book. Now that I've read One for the Road, I understand both my own reaction, and the supposed logic behind Watts' argument, although I most definitely don't agree with it.

Within some wiggle room, I have cut my driving teeth, so to speak, alongside MADD. When I first started driving, it wasn't at all hard for people to get off drunk driving charges. Along the way, it became habit in any wreck to breathalyze all drivers. It's simply not that big a deal anymore. My circle has adapted. I remember the stories about Larry Mahoney because I drove that stretch of I-71 back then. More recently, the story that sticks is Melissa Marvin, who just couldn't grasp that it was a bad idea to drive drunk after drinking. Now she's doing four life sentences at NCCIW.

One for the Road explains "the rest of the story," why some people have adapted to not driving drunk and others may not ever learn, at least in this culture. If you have any interest in the arguments surrounding impaired driving, you'll find it a useful read. The math is complicated--how many people really die / are injured as a result? Which are the most effective interventions? Which population causes the most trouble--so called "social drinkers" (a group with a murky boundary, to be sure) or "real" alcoholics? Are you at a higher risk on New Year's Eve, when the amateur drunks drive, or during the rest of the year, when only the practiced alcoholics are on the road after closing time?

One for the Road is history first, story second, and is a bit dry to read as a result.

I had a few quibbles:

>I had to look up the rest of the lyrics to "Wasn't that a Party" (quoted in the introduction) to find that it is, indeed, a drunk driving song; the part quoted does not directly reference driving.

>I would have liked a bit more discussion of the distinction between the fabled "social drinker" and "alcoholic," which is a very fuzzy line. The rooms of Al-anon and ACOA are full of people whose relative or friend would call him or herself a "social drinker."

>Lerner says that a minivan-driving mother "inexplicably got drunk and high with seven children in the car." (p. 13) My experience suggests that "inexplicable" is the wrong word to use when a grown person has a daytime BAC of 0.19%.

Johns Hopkins Press gives credit to the cover designer but not to the designer of the pages. The paper copy was daunting, with long line lengths and small margins. My eyes struggled in 1.75 reading glasses that can easily handle many other books.

That said, One for the Road is worth the effort.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One for the Road, December 16, 2011
By 
Tom "ontrac1" (Flemington, NJ United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 (Hardcover)
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I purchased this book for my soon to be driving teen to supplement the drivers ed course she was taking in school. I thought it was going to be a "Blood on the Highway" type of book but was surprised it took a more intellectual approach to the subject. It is a well written book packed with invaluable information for any driver. Well worth the reading.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and blessedly brief, December 14, 2011
This review is from: One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 (Hardcover)
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Here is a book that recounts the cultural history of drunk driving starting in about 1900. Back then, drunk driving was a kind of joke. Later it became an unfortunate accident for the victim. In the 60s and 70s, several organizations arose with the goal of changing that attitude - and they were able to do so at least for a time. Using horrific examples that generated sympathy, they changed the public discourse.

There are two ways to look at drunk driving - either you see it as taking a significant chance that you will be responsible for a terrible accident, or you see it as something where luck will carry you...and besides, this is America where liberty trumps community safety a lot of the time. There is joy in drink, after all, up to a point, and drunks have very little judgmeny anyway.

Lerner narrates the history of the swing back and forth between these two points of view. He gives relatively little consideration to WHY the public point of view changed, possibly because the root causes of social change are so difficult to pinpoint. He describes both points of view, and gives the evidence for both, including the change in drunk driving deaths as correlated to the harshness of the laws.

One of his most striking points: lots of people have driven under the influence, and it is difficult to make common behavior illegal. Perhaps a public-health response to the problem works better. That's what we've taken up lately, with education of alcohol servers and so on.

So should you read this book? Sure, if you are interested in such a combination of social history and presentation of contrasting points of view. If you want more thorough history or more polemics, look elsewhere. I think the book is just the right length. There's no need for a doorstop tome on this topic.

Also, Lerner provides sources and references to check if you're interested in more information and stats. He does not encumber the text with footnotes or symbols. A very good compromise for a popular history/culture book.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 15K and Counting, December 13, 2011
By 
Charles M. Nobles (Tulsa, OK United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 (Hardcover)
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It is believed there are some 15,000 deaths each year in the U.S. that are alcohol related. That is, a driver impaired due to alcohol consumption. This book provides a historical review of why our society has refused to adopt reasonable strategies to end drunk driving and the attendant deaths and injuries that occur every year as a result of such refusal. The author examines the two main competing sides to the issue, those that are opposed to drunk driving and those that feel the problem is not as serious as claimed and drinking and driving is already overregulated, and has some interesting and well thought out conclusions. He discusses topics such as Americans dual love of drinking and driving; the success of the alcohol lobby; an inadequate public transportation system; and a continuing backlash against Prohibition. He also provides an informative history of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and some of the reasons for their decline in influence. I was surprised to learn that both of the founders resigned from MADD and went to work for the liquor industry. Their reasoning is, needless to say, controversial but is not all that unheard of in American politics. Follow the money is still a pretty good roadmap to many individuals behavior in the political arena.
This is a scholarly work written by a public health professor and historian of medicine but is reader friendly and written in a highly readable manner. It provides historical analysis of a problem in the U.S. that continues to cause thousands of deaths and injuries each year and yet there is a steadfast refusal by a majority of the populace to adopt reasonable, workable strategies to end the carnage.
The author does not take sides in this issue although he clearly feels that drunk driving needs to be stopped. He does provide a clear history of the problem and lays out the issues as seen from various perspectives both historically and currently. Regardless of the readers opinions on this subject this book is a must read for anyone remotely interested in an issue that refuses to die.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A readable modern history, December 3, 2011
This review is from: One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 (Hardcover)
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This is a solid survey of the problems of, attempts to control and public attitude toward drunk driving. The majority of the book covers current attitudes and activities. Only about 40 pages are devoted to a history of the automobile and alcohol. I found this disappointing, expecting more of a historical account.
The author produced a very readable book that is fully footnoted with illustrations and photographs.
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One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900
One for the Road: Drunk Driving since 1900 by Barron H. Lerner (Hardcover - September 7, 2011)
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