WEEK the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) issued its recommendation that
states reduce the blood alcohol content (BAC) level that qualifies as impaired
driving to 0.05%. Every state currently
has that limit set at 0.08%. Not too
many years ago the standard was 0.10%, and the reduction has clearly resulted
in less traffic deaths caused by impaired drivers, down from about 21,000 per
year in 1982 to half that now. Since
1995, the number of alcohol-related traffic deaths has held steady at about
10,000 persons per year.
I would go nuts if I lost a loved one to an
alcohol-impaired driver.* Yet I do not believe the NTSB recommendation
is the answer to lessening highway deaths caused by impaired drivers. We know that many, many more drivers drive
under the influence than get caught. With the BAC level set at 0.08%, the key is not lowering that level but
increasing the incidence of enforcement.
Improved enforcement of our current law would have a
major impact upon traffic deaths caused by alcohol and drug impaired
drivers. It would not be difficult to
determine the best places to establish DUI checkpoints on the highways. When these are done they are always
effective, but they are not done nearly enough.
Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and similar
organizations have helped raise the consciousness level of the perils of
impaired driving, but there seems to have been a decrease in getting that word
out lately. I’d like to see as many ads
on TV regarding this subject as there are for erectile dysfunction. The poor guy who can’t get it up is not
nearly as bad off as the poor innocent who gets killed by an impaired driver!
*Notice I am not saying “drunk driver.” This is a misnomer. One does not have to be “drunk” to be
convicted of DUI/DWI. One only needs to
be impaired or under the influence to the extent one’s normal faculties are affected. This is a lesser standard that “drunk.”