Drivers in Fort Worth, Texas were stopped by a police roadblock that directed them into a parking lot then asked by federal contractors for breath, saliva, and blood samples for a government research study designed to conclude the number of drunk or drug-impaired drivers on the roads. Over the course of three years, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration will spend $7.9 million on the study of a “100-percent voluntary” and anonymous survey.
Drivers that were victimized by this rights-infringing study said they felt trapped, and didn’t feel the survey was voluntary at all.
“I gestured to the guy in front that I just wanted to go straight, but he wouldn’t let me and forced me into a parking spot,” Kim Cope, a driver who was pulled over stated. “They were asking for cheek swabs. They would give $10 for that. Also, if you let them take your blood, they would pay you $50 for that. I finally did the Breathalyzer test just because I thought that would be the easiest way to leave,” she said, adding she did not receive any money.
NBC DFW confirmed that the survey was done by a government contractor, the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, which is based in Calverton, MD. A company spokeswoman referred questions to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. An agency spokeswoman sent an email confirming that the government is conducting the surveys in 30 cities across the country in an effort to reduce impaired-driving accidents, but refused to answer any other questions regarding the study.
Cope continued to express her discontent with the survey, saying that “It just doesn’t seem right that they should be able to do any of it. If it’s voluntary, it’s voluntary, and none of it felt voluntary.”