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Is change to drunk driving limit the way to prevent U.S. crashes?

The nation is buzzing with conversations regarding the National Transportation Safety Board's recent discussion about drunk driving in the U.S. It is no secret that driving drunk is a traffic safety problem, putting motorists in Pennsylvania in danger of being hurt or killed in alcohol-related accidents every day. The NTSB has an idea about how to reduce that risk.

Driving under the influence of alcohol makes drivers less capable of focusing on the road and making wise driving decisions. But is the current drunk driving limit allowing other impaired drivers to legally take to the roads? Is the 0.08 BAC limit too lax? Compared to other countries, some might say so.

Though the number of drunk driving accidents in the U.S. has decreased in the past few decades, largely due to legislative and educational efforts, there is still much improvement to be made. Research indicates that one person in the U.S. is killed in a drunk driving accident every hour. Safety officials wonder whether the risk of accidents would be reduced if drivers were held to an even stricter drinking and driving standard.

Specifically, the NTSB is contemplating a BAC limit of 0.05 instead of the current 0.08. Individuals' impairment based on alcohol consumption varies, but the proposed limit of 0.05 could mean just a couple of drinks for some motorists before they'd be considered at or beyond the legal limit.

The question is whether laws change people's behaviors quickly enough. Even MADD representatives suggest that other efforts might do better to create safer roadways in a more timely fashion. Such efforts include awareness campaigns and the addition of ignition interlock devices into more drivers' vehicles.

What do you think about this traffic safety matter? Would a lower BAC limit make Pennsylvania safer?

Source: The Christian Science Monitor, "Drunk driving: Why is MADD among critics of lower alcohol limit?" Ryan Lenora Brown, May 15, 2013

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