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The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has long been concerned about alcohol-impaired driving, which accounts for approximately one-third of all US highway fatalities. In the past several decades, awareness of the dangers of alcohol-impaired driving has increased. Public and private entities focusing on this safety issue have changed social perceptions concerning alcohol-impaired driving; they have also achieved important legislative actions to help reduce it. Due to these efforts, the number of lives lost annually in alcohol-impaired-driver-related crashes declined 53 percent, from 21,113 in 1982 to 9,878 in 2011; and the percentage of highway fatalities resulting from alcohol-involved crashes is down from 48 percent in 1982 to about 31 percent today. In recent years, however, US success in addressing this safety issue has plateaued. Since 1995, although the annual number of fatalities has declined, nearly one in three of all highway deaths still involves an alcohol-impaired driver. The cause of these deaths is well understood and preventable, yet even the most concerted efforts have not kept thousands of lives from being lost each year. If traditional methods are no longer reducing the problem, new—and possibly challenging—initiatives must be considered. In this safety report, the NTSB— • Describes the scope of the impaired driving problem; • Summarizes the efforts of advocacy groups, researchers, law enforcement agencies, traffic safety groups, public health organizations, legislators, and motor vehicle agencies, as well as federal, state, and local governments, to reduce the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities; • Examines the effect of alcohol consumption on an individual’s ability to operate a motor vehicle and on the risk of being involved in a crash; and • Evaluates the effectiveness of current and emerging alcohol-impaired driving countermeasures and identifies new approaches and actions needed to reduce and ultimately eliminate alcohol-impaired driving.
TO THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Seek legislative authority to award incentive grants for states to establish a per se blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 0.05 or lower for all drivers who are not already required to adhere to lower BAC limits.
Original recommendation transmittal letter:
Open - Acceptable Response
Addressee(s) and Addressee Status:
NHTSA (Open - Acceptable Response)
Safety Recommendation History
We are encouraged by your efforts to develop a method to evaluate the effects of lowered state BAC laws, beginning with the 0.05 BAC law recently passed by Utah. We further note your efforts to communicate with Utah and monitor the state’s developments and challenges moving forward. These steps represent progress toward establishing the state incentive grants recommended in Safety Recommendation H-13-1, which is classified OPEN--ACCEPTABLE RESPONSE. We look forward to receiving periodic updates on your efforts.
According to Title 49 United States Code Section 1135, “the Secretary [of Transportation] shall give to the [NTSB] a formal written response to each recommendation not later than 90 days after receiving the recommendation.” More than a year has passed since we issued Safety Recommendations H-13-1 and -4, and we have not yet received any response regarding actions to address them. Accordingly, Safety Recommendations H-13-1 and -4, which have been classified “Open-Await Response” since their issuance, are classified OPEN—UNACCEPTABLE RESPONSE.
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