Drunk driving and alcohol-related accidents continues to be a significant problem in this country. Each year, nearly 10,000 people die in alcohol-related traffic accidents and 170,000 are injured, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). While that number is an improvement from the 20,000 who died in alcohol-related accidents 30 years ago, drunk driving continues to be a public health concern – one that the NTSB wants to do something about.
According, the NTSB is now recommending that all states lower their legal BAC levels from .08 to .05, which could result in an estimated 1,00o saved lives each year.
Currently, the U.S. and Canada are among a handful of countries that have set the BAC level at .08; most countries in Europe, along with most of South America and Australia, have BAC levels of .05 as the legal limit. According to this article on NBC News, when Australia dropped its BAC level from .08 to .05, provinces reported a 5-18% reduction in traffic fatalities.
The NTSB is urging the lower BAC levels by pointing to evidence that at .05 BAC, some drivers begin having difficulties with depth perception and other visual functions and that at .07, cognitive abilities become impaired. When the BAC level is at .05 BAC, the risk of having an accident increases by 39 percent, and at .08, the risk of having an accident increases by more than 100 percent.
Also included in the NTSB’s recommendations was an expansion of the authority of state police to confiscate licenses from drivers whose BAC level exceeds legal limits and the installation of ignition locking devices that prevent cars from starting until breath samples are analyzed for all first-time offenders.
The NTSB is an investigative agency that advocates on behalf of traffic and driving safety issues, and it has no legal authority to change state or federal laws regarding drunk driving. Rather, it is up to each individual state to determine whether to accept the NTSB’s recommendations, and up to the U.S. Department of Transportation whether to endorse the recommendations.
As we recently reported, drunk driving is responsible for a significant number of auto accidents. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of fatal car accidents, accounting for nearly one-third (31%) of all traffic-related deaths in the United States. Among motorcyclists killed in fatal crashes in 2010, 28% had a BAC of .08 or higher.
Furthermore, driving while being distracted poses another major risk for drivers. You can check the differences and similarities between distracted and drunk driving here.
The Chicago auto accident lawyers at Ankin Law Office, LLC are committed to making roadways safer by protecting the rights of those injured or killed in auto accidents, including those crashes caused by alcohol use. If you have been injured or a loved one has been killed in an alcohol-related auto accident , contact one of our Chicago car accident lawyers at (312) 600-0000 to learn more about a possible personal injury lawsuit.