Alcohol-related accidents kill and injure thousands of Americans every year. Many people believe that the problem will solve itself once self-driving cars hit the roads, but that could be years from now. In the meantime, scientists and engineers are working to come up with ideas on how to reduce the number of impaired drivers on the roads.
Here are two key recommendations from a report committed by federal safety regulators on what state lawmakers should do to reduce alcohol-related driving accidents.
Lowering the limit
A report commissioned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) calls for states to reduce the blood-alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold from .08 to .05. The only state that currently has a BAC threshold of .05 is Utah, which only recently took effect in the New Year. The scientists believe that a lower BAC threshold will discourage more drivers from taking to the road after a couple of drinks and reduce the number alcohol-related accidents significantly.
Before making the recommendation, scientists looked at the effectiveness of a .05 limit in other areas of the world. The .05 BAC limit is already in effect in more than 100 countries, and the lower limit seems to be making a difference. When the standard in Europe was lowered to .05 ten years ago, the number of fatalities attributable to drunk driving was cut in half. The National Transportation Safety Board also recommends that states adopt the .05 threshold. With several prominent agencies showing support for lowering the legal limit, states might consider revising their laws accordingly.
If lawmakers enact the scientists’ and engineers’ recommendations, Californians may want to plan for a sober cab after drinking – or stay home and wait for the debut of self-driving cars to help you to get around.
If California follows Europe’s example, you may want to plan to hail a taxi after a night of drinking — or at least wait until self-driving cars hit the road to ensure that you can home safely.