Four out of 10 designated drivers consume alcohol before driving, according to a recent study – and about half of those drink enough that their ability to drive safely could be impaired.
In a study published recently in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, researchers assessed more than 1,000 bar patrons over a period of three months. Nearly 40 percent of designated drivers involved in the study had consumed some amount of alcohol. When given a breath test, 17 percent of designated drivers registered blood alcohol contents of .02 to .049, while 18 percent had BACs measuring .05 or above.
Throughout the U.S., there is a presumption drivers are not too drunk to drive unless their blood alcohol (BAC) levels reach .08 or above – but, in fact, impairment can begin at BAC levels well below .08. According to data cited by the National Transportation Safety Board, a driver with a BAC of .05 is nearly 40 percent more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than a driver who has not consumed alcohol.
The authors of the recent study pointed to earlier research indicating that drivers’ skills become slightly impaired at alcohol levels as low as .02, and that the impairment is substantial at BAC levels of .05 and above. Although drivers themselves may not realize it, a .05 BAC level can result in diminished depth perception and other skills important for safe driving.
In May 2013, the NTSB issued a recommendation to states that they modify their drunk driving laws to lower the legal limit for drivers from .08 to .05. The NTSB, which has no lawmaking authority of its own, estimates that reducing the legal limit to .05 nationwide could prevent as many as 800 traffic fatalities each year.
The recommendation was issued on the 25 th anniversary of the Carrollton bus crash – a drunk driving crash in Kentucky that killed 27 people – all but three of whom were children. The wreck, which occurred when a drunk driver hit a school bus while traveling the wrong direction on Interstate 71, was the deadliest drunk driving crash ever to have occurred in the United States.
In Kentucky, drunk drivers can be held liable if they cause accidents that kill or injure other people. If you have been hurt or suffered the loss of a family member because of a drunk driver in Kentucky, you may wish to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to learn about the possibility of taking legal action. Depending on your specific circumstances, you may obtain monetary compensation for your lost wages, medical bills, funeral costs or other losses that your family has sustained as a result of the crash.
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