from an expert in the field:
from an expert in the field:
Mark Rosekind is a member of the National Transportation Safety Board and
a leading expert in human fatigue (
Gary Biller is president of the National Motorists Association, a grassroots
advocacy organization dedicated to the protection of motorists’ rights and
Opinions expressed are those of
the individuals or organizations
represented and are presented
to foster discussion. Costco and
The Costco Connection take no
position on any Debate topic.
Should we separate
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Is America giving
up too much privacy
YES: 81% NO: 19%
votes received by
September 30, 2013.
ONE OUT of three deaths
on our nation’s roads
involves drinking and driving, a tragic reality made
even more troubling because
it has not changed in more
than 15 years.
Confronting this leading killer on America’s
roads requires a bold, multifaceted approach
acknowledging every possible scenario of driving
while impaired by alcohol, from serious repeat
offenders to those who, for whatever reason, have
simply had too much to drink and cannot operate
a vehicle safely. The National Transportation Safety
Board’s (NTSB) full set of targeted interventions
calls for stronger laws, swifter enforcement and
expanded use of technology to prevent the 10,000
lives lost and 173,000 injuries every year that cost
this country $130 billion.
These interventions include the first serious,
science-based recommendation on lowering the
legal blood alcohol content (BAC) level in years,
because any impairment compromising a driver’s
ability places lives in jeopardy.
Studies (see “Reaching Zero” in Web links on
opposite page) in several European countries show
that lowering the legal BAC limit to 0.05 has
reduced highway fatalities by between 8 and 18
percent. Applied in the U.S., lowering the legal limit
to 0.05 BAC or lower could protect 1,000 to 2,000
lives annually, prevent countless injuries and save
billions of dollars in associated costs.
Blood alcohol levels higher than 0.05 significantly increase the risk of a fatal crash. And even at
0.05, the chances of killing or being killed behind
the wheel are 38 percent greater than when driving
sober, because at that level most drivers have
impaired alertness, vision and responsiveness. In
light of such information, more than 100 nations
across the globe have lowered their legal BAC limits
to 0.05 or lower, with proven results.
The NTSB is not advocating abstinence from
alcohol; rather, it is recommending the commonsense separation of consuming alcohol from the
task of driving. Impairment behind the wheel
begins with the first drink, and the nation must foster a higher degree of personal responsibility not to
drink and drive with strategies such as using a designated driver, having one’s last drink long before
getting on the road, walking, taking a cab or public
transit, and employing an alternative transportation service available to drive people home after
drinking too much.
Someone’s life may depend on your decision,
and every death or injury resulting from alcohol-impaired driving is needless and preventable. C
THE BLOOD alcohol content (BAC) of a 175-pound
man nursing a single martini over an hour-long lunch
might register as 0.05 percent or more. A 120-pound
woman enjoying two glasses of wine during the
course of a one-hour dinner typically will have a
0.059 BAC. These folks would be subject to criminal charges, impaired or not, if the legal limit for
driving under the influence (DUI) were lowered to
0.05 BAC and they got behind the wheel of a car.
At 0.05 BAC, many drivers do not exhibit
impairment that makes them unsafe drivers, but
that changes when levels reach 0.10 or higher.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety
Administration (“Fatal Crashes by Highest BAC
Level in Crash”) has been remarkably consistent
throughout the years: In 92. 5 percent of fatal
crashes where a driver had a perceptible blood
alcohol reading, that driver registered a BAC of
0.10 or higher. Alternatively, only 2. 7 percent of
fatal crashes involved a driver with a BAC between
0.05 and 0.08.
According to the American Beverage
Institute, this isn’t just an American phenomenon.
A study in South Australia after the state lowered
its BAC limit from 0.08 to 0.05 found that the
lower limit did not significantly affect the number
of alcohol-related fatalities. Similarly, researchers
who studied Denmark’s 0.05 BAC law did not find
a decrease in alcohol-related crashes in the first
year after the law was adopted.
By spending millions of dollars to drop the
legal limit of impairment from 0.08 to 0.05 BAC,
rather than focusing on problem offenders with
0.10 BAC or more, valuable resources will be misdirected in the fight to minimize the impact of
drunken driving on society. And meanwhile, tens
of thousands of innocent drivers will be charged
with legal impairment each year, putting an even
greater burden on already overburdened legal and
Make no mistake: The issue of high-BAC
drivers (that is, drivers with BACs of 0.10 or
above) and repeat offenders has to be dealt with
But throwing the book at moderate social
drinkers makes no sense at all. Leave the DUI
legal limit at 0.08 and focus taxpayer money and
law enforcement activity on getting high-BAC
drivers off the road and into treatment programs
that address their problem drinking. More highway tragedies will be prevented and fewer innocent lives will be turned upside down. C
Percentage reflects votes
received by October 15, 2013.
Results may reflect Debate
being picked up by blogs.