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No “Safe” Blood Alcohol Content Level

(Spring 2014) Although alcohol is responsible for more than 30% of all auto crash fatalities, many are still driving after drinking too much. Data collected by the American Automobile Association (AAA) uncovered that 20% of licensed drivers get behind the wheel even when their blood alcohol level may be near or over the legal limit. In contrast, AAA also found that an overwhelming majority of those surveyed (96%) view impaired driving as either somewhat or totally unacceptable. Over 60% of those polled are also in favor of reducing the legal blood-alcohol limit as well as requiring new cars to come standard with sobriety-testing equipment.

Of course, it’s not just those driving over the legal limit who pose a threat to others on the road. A study released by the University of California, San Diego supports the assertion that there is no “safe” amount of alcohol that can be consumed prior to driving. Researchers found that even though the legal limit in the U.S. is .08, drivers with blood alcohol content (BAC) of .01 have almost a 50% more chance of causing an accident than a driver with a BAC of zero. An adult male may reach a BAC of .01 by only drinking six ounces of beer.

The California study supports the idea of lowering the legal BAC limit. Other statistics point to instituting tighter legislation to reduce accidents.  Data analysis suggests that the U.S. states with the strictest alcohol and traffic laws saw a 14.5% reduction in alcohol-related accident fatalities when compared to those states with the least restrictive laws.

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