The statistics are staggering:
- Thirty-two percent of all fatal crashes involved alcohol-impaired driving (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration [NHTSA], 2007).
- In 2008, there were nearly 12,000 alcohol-impaired fatalities (NHTSA, 2008).
- One in five teens binge drinks. Only 1 in 100 parents believes his or her teen binge drinks (Institute of Medicine, 2003).
- Traffic crashes are the number one killer of teens, and 28 percent of fatal traffic crashes involving teen drivers are alcohol related (NHTSA, 2005, 2006).
These statistics have led Maury Dennis, a retired Texas A&M University professor and a current senior research scientist at the Texas Transportation Institute (TTI), to dedicate his career to educating the public about problems caused by alcohol and drug abuse. Since 1997, Dennis has directed the Center for Alcohol and Drug Education Studies (CADES), which provides education and research related to alcohol and other drugs specifically as they relate to traffic safety.
CADES is also a central resource for collection and distribution of a wide range of literature related to alcohol and drug education. Center personnel engage in research to identify and evaluate approaches to preventing use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs.
CADES remained in Texas A&M’s Department of Health and Kinesiology in the College of Education and Human Development after Dennis’ retirement from the department in 2006. Since his employment at TTI the following year, Dennis has been successful in acquiring more than $500,000 in alcohol-related research projects for the center.
Earlier this year, with approval from Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp, administrative responsibility for CADES was transferred to TTI.
“The transfer makes a lot of sense,” says Dennis. “I think the center now has a very good chance of expansion because of individual TTI experts in alcohol- and driving-related issues. CADES is a perfect fit for the Institute.”
Under Dennis’ leadership, CADES developed numerous statewide education programs including the Texas DWI Education Program, the Texas Alcohol Education Program for Minors, and the Texas Drug and Alcohol Driving Awareness Program. CADES programs have been instrumental in teaching students, prosecutors, probation officers, expert trial witnesses and alcohol servers various aspects of alcohol-related issues.
“While the administrative responsibility for CADES has been transferred to TTI, the College of Education and Human Development will continue to be involved with center activities and research,” says Dennis.