States Should Reduce Driver BAC limits to .05%, Says NTSB

Breathalyzer Test in Miami

Every year the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) releases its “most wanted” list of ten policies recommended for national implementation. This year, the list includes suggested changes towards the improvement of rail transit safety, the reduction of fatigue-related accidents, and the reduction of accidents due to alcohol impairment. The proposed changes to drinking and driving laws would reduce the legal driving limit of blood alcohol content (BAC) to .05% or perhaps lower. Despite these recommendations, the agency admits that more data is needed to meaningfully understand the relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and the risk for accidents.

It is nearly impossible to accurately estimate a person’s BAC and even the breathalyzers which are used by police can be unreliable. However, online BAC estimators do exist and can provide a rough idea of how many drinks it might take to increase a person’s BAC to over the legal limit. Depending on a driver’s weight, age, and the amount of food and water consumed alongside alcoholic beverages, a person may reach this proposed limit in two drinks or less.

The NTSB also mentions recommendations for combating drunk driving including harsher punishments and the increased presence of law enforcement and sobriety checkpoints. More drastic measures that are mentioned by the NTSB include the mandatory installation of ignition interlock devices for all alcohol related offences and the inclusion of built-in and touch-based technology to keep a potentially intoxicated driver from turning on a vehicle.

Additional items on the most wanted list look to reduce the number of accidents due to distracted driving. Specifically, the organization is seeking to ban all cell phone related activity for vehicle operators. While the use of a cellphone to talk or text is already against the law, the change would outlaw hands free technology as well. The agency does admit that the causes of distracted driving are numerous and that a shift in the nation’s cultural mindset must occur for change to truly be affected. For more information on the proposal and the recommended changes to drinking and driving laws, read the full most wanted list on the NTSB website.

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