A study by two at the University of San Diego linked fatalities from 1994-2008 with buzz driving (in which the driver has a blood alcohol content more than 0.01 and less than 0.08. This obvious connection has led the researchers to believe that buzz driving is unsafe.
The study was done by taking numbers from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) that recorded 1,495,667 fatal car accidents during the years ’94-2008. FARS is nationally comprehensive and covers all times of the day and all days of the week as well as reporting on blood-alcohol content in increments of 0.01.
The study helped to reveal that accidents were 36.6% more severe when as little as a 0.01 alcohol blood level was found in that of the driver. Other connections with buzzed driving include a faster rate of speed at which the driver was going causing the impact and the severity of the accident to be much greater.
The summer months and at the hours between 8pm and 4 am show the greatest amount of fatal accidents and links with buzzed driving. Even outside of this time frame, buzzed driving shows a significantly higher number in conjunction with accidents than sober driving.
“Up till now, BAC limits have been determined not only by rational considerations and by empirical findings but also by political and cultural factors,” Phillips said, citing as evidence that the U.S. national standard of 0.08 is relatively recent and that BAC limits vary greatly by country. In Germany, the limit is 0.05; in Japan, 0.03; and in Sweden, 0.02.
“We hope that our study might influence not only U.S. legislators, but also foreign legislators, in providing empirical evidence for lowering the legal BAC even more,” Phillips said. “Doing so is very likely to reduce incapacitating injuries and to save lives.”
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