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Should the Legal Limit for Drunken Driving be Changed?

February 25, 2014 Blog,Personal injury

New Study Shows Even Minimally Buzzed Drivers More Likely to Cause Fatal Accidents

A new study by UC San Diego researchers revels that even minimally intoxicated motorists can cause fatal accidents. NBC Report on Buzzed Drivers and Car Crashes

The research determined that even drivers with a blood alcohol level (BAC) of 0.01 are 46 percent more likely than sober drivers to cause accidents.

UCSD professor David P. Phillips and several co-authors conducted the recent study. They analyzed 570,731 collisions between 1994 and 2011 – concluding that any combination of drinking and driving poses an increased risk of traffic accidents.

Focusing on “buzzed drivers” with BAC levels ranging from 0.01 to 0.07, the study also find “no sudden transition from blameless to blamed” at the legal limit for drunk driving. Instead, the research shows the blame for accidents increases steadily from drivers with a BAC of 0.01 to 0.24 percent. UCSD Study on Accidents

“We find no safe combination of drinking and driving – no point at which it is harmless to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car,” Phillips said in a news release. “Our data support both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s campaign that ‘Buzzed driving is drunk driving’ and the recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board to reduce the legal limit to BAC 0.05 percent. In fact, our data provide support for yet greater reductions in the legal BAC.”

According to Phillips, although federal agencies recommend reducing the legal BAC limit below 0.08 percent, there has been very little research on the dangers of driving at very low levels of BAC. “We appear to be the first researchers to have provided nationwide evidence on traffic accidents caused by minimally buzzed drivers,” he said. Even Low Blood Alcohol Content Causes Car Crashes

More than 100 countries around the world have limits set at BAC 0.05 percent or below. Calling on all 50 U.S. states to follow suit, NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said in a press release last spring: “Alcohol-impaired crashes are not accidents. They are crimes. They can – and should – be prevented. The tools exist. What is needed is the will.” NTSB Strives to Reach Zero Alcohol-Impaired Crashes