July 10, 2018

PURITAN NATION:

The Deadliest Drug (J.B. WOGAN | JULY 2018, Governing)

The total number of alcohol-impaired traffic fatalities actually rose in both 2015 and 2016. "Drunk driving has been around since the automobile was invented and it's still the biggest killer on the highway," says J.T. Griffin, the chief government affairs officer for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Indeed, alcohol causes more traffic deaths per year than either speeding or driving without a seatbelt. 

In January, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine issued a report about the causes of the problem and potential solutions. "Yes, we made progress. No, we didn't get rid of it," says David Jernigan, a Boston University public health researcher who helped write the report. "Ten thousand deaths are too many."

The report provided a package of policy recommendations, one of which was for every state to lower the legal BAC limit from .08 to .05. In practical terms, that would mean most women couldn't drive after two glasses of wine in an hour; most men couldn't drive after three. The report is only the latest to call for a more stringent BAC limit: The National Transportation Safety Board has also called for a lower level. 

Up to now, no state has imposed a limit of .05, but that's about to change. Utah will go to .05 in December. In the past year, Delaware, Hawaii, New York and Washington state have also considered legislation to lower the limit. "It will change the conversation from, 'If you have been drinking too much, you shouldn't drive,' to, 'If you've been drinking, you shouldn't drive,'" says Utah Rep. Norm Thurston, who sponsored the .05 legislation. The new message -- that driving shouldn't occur after even moderate drinking -- "is probably what it should have been all along," he says. 

We can't automate fast enough.


Posted by at July 10, 2018 4:17 AM

  

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