Tackling Drunk Driving Fatalities: Where Are We Now?

Nearly a decade ago, the National Transportation Safety Board released a report about its goal to reach zero deaths caused by alcohol-impaired drivers. At the time, drinking and driving accidents accounted for around one-third of all deadly car accidents.

Unfortunately, since that report, very little has changed. Drunk driving is still a massive concern. The NTSB recently contacted the governors of all 50 states to push them to take action on this long-standing problem.

A Decade of Inaction

The NTSB made several recommendations to help cut down on drunk driving crashes. The ideas put forth included:

  • Lowering the drunk driving limit to .05 BAC
  • Making interlock devices a requirement for all people convicted of drinking and driving
  • Pairing interlock devices with tougher license suspension and revocation policies
  • Making drunk driving enforcement more visible
  • Working to cut down on repeat drunk driving offenses

The Chair of the NTSB, Jennifer Homendy, is accusing state governments of being complacent, stating: “…a decade of inaction is inexcusable.”

Changing Perceptions of Drunk Driving

Not that long ago, drunk driving was largely ignored. The death toll was much higher, but law enforcement placed little emphasis on the problem. In addition, people were much more casual about getting behind the wheel after many drinks.

The seeds for modern-day attitudes toward drunk driving weren’t sown until the ’80s. Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) began an effective campaign to force law enforcement and the public at large to take drunk driving seriously. However, after a big initial push, it seems that the energy to combat the problem is waning.

The Death Toll Is Still Unacceptable

Car and truck accident deaths are far below their high water mark, on a per mile driven basis. Seat belts, airbags, improved brakes, and other safety systems have made accidents easier to avoid and survive.

Still, tens of thousands of people die in crashes every year. And roughly one-third of them die in accidents where alcohol is a factor. No one who sees what a fatal crash does to families would ignore 10,000 such tragedies.

The BAC Controversy

The science is clear when it comes to the impact of alcohol on safe driving. A person’s reaction times, concentration, and decision-making ability starts to drop with the first introduction of alcohol. There isn’t a magic line where alcohol turns a good driver into a bad one. Any alcohol at all makes drivers worse than they were without it.

The NTSB believes that a BAC of .05 is sufficiently high to make driving dangerous, and therefore illegal. Only one state so far, Utah, agrees. The lack of action is tied to people’s false beliefs about drinking and driving.

There are no “good” drunk drivers. There are no “safe” drunk drivers. People don’t make good decisions about drinking and driving. The death toll proves that conclusively.

Call an Attorney Who Understands Drunk Driving Accidents

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident with an impaired driver, you need legal help. Our Dallas lawyers can help you get the compensation you deserve to maximize your recovery after a crash. Call us at 800-TedLyon to schedule a free initial consultation.