The DUI Issue: Defining Success

Is our technology making a difference? It’s such a fundamental question, yet we still, as a company, are learning how best to define success. We know how to define success for our company—unit sales, monitoring days. But defining success in the bigger picture—do we make a difference—is essential for the long-term growth of our company.  Yet nailing down what ‘success’ means in order to take our measure is surprisingly complex.

“Success” would probably be defined by anyone as the elimination of drunk driving in our society. Period. But the lack of a unified focus—an agreed upon metric for measuring progress—makes it difficult for the industry, for courts, and for legislators to make an impact. How can any company, any organization achieve progress and take the measure of their efforts without a clear metric?

Is progress the rate of compliance during supervision? Or is it a reduction in recidivism rates that defines success? If it’s recidivism, how far post-supervision? Is progress defined as the current trending in alcohol-related fatalities? Is it the number of Stops—or Start Fails—for interlock systems in a given year? Is it the rate of DUI arrests overall? The metric for progress varies, sometimes based on agenda, sometimes based on convenience.

Should it be all or none?

As important as the metric for progress is, should one tool (alcohol monitors, ignition interlock, treatment, license suspension) be expected to impact any of those metrics as a standalone solution? We don’t believe so. Entire programs should be evaluated based on the metrics. But you simply can’t look at a single tool and assign success or failure without viewing the entire program.

We’ve looked at recidivism rates a great deal over the last several years, knowing that long-term studies are what most in the industry want to see when assessing progress. But we also know how our tool is applied, and what other tools are involved in a program, are as important as the reliabilty and functionality of the individual tool. Even U.S. lawmakers have trended toward legislating tools. So what if, instead, they focused on legislating progress instead—mandating that states make a certain level of progress based on a universally defined metric (a defined % reduction in alcohol-related traffic fatalities, for example), and then encouraging those states to apply the many tools available to the best of their ability to make that required progress.

Some would have you believe that assessment of a single tool without factoring in the greater whole is valuable. But you look at any single metric for progress, and you’ll find that just about everyone is trying to take some credit. Tougher seat belt laws, improved automobile safety all impact fatality rates. Funding for law enforcement efforts impact arrest and re-arrest rates. But it’s likely that a number of other things do, as well.

So how should our industry be defining success?

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