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NTSB lists ways to reduce substance-impaired driving

BAC data will play a significant role in the federal funding that states receive to address impair driving, NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said.

The Trucker News Services

11/26/2012

WASHINGTON — The National Transportation Safety Board Friday announced several recommendations as part of the panel’s continuing emphasis on the issue of substance-impaired driving.

The NTSB said substance-impaired driving is the biggest killer on the nation’s highways.

The recommendations focus on three areas: better alcohol testing, better drug testing and identifying the “place of last drink.”

Although over 10,000 lives are lost each year in substance impaired driving crashes, some states provide little or no data to the national calculation, the NTSB said, adding that while there is significant evidence that illegal drugs, over-the-counter and prescription medications are playing a greater role in roadway crashes, there are no standards or testing criteria for these substances.

To address these shortcomings, the NTSB is recommending that states develop better blood alcohol concentration (BAC) testing and reporting guidelines, agree on a common standard of practice for drug toxicology testing and increase their collection, documentation and reporting of test results.

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The collection of place of last drink (POLD) data could focus training and enforcement actions on establishments that are serving under-age or intoxicated patrons, the NTSB said.

By collecting information on POLD, law enforcement officers provide a way to target establishments for effective interventions, the panel said in its recommendations.

 “Better data leads to better interventions and results in more lives saved,” said Deborah A.P. Hersman, chairman of the NTSB. “Collecting information on the “place of last drink” can serve as an incentive for alcohol-serving establishments to better train their employees in recognizing under-age or intoxicated patrons.”

BAC data will play a significant role in the federal funding that states receive to address impair driving, Hersman said.

The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21) includes language that will based state’s eligibility for federal grand money to fund impaired driving countermeasures on the state’s average impaired driving fatality rate, defined as the number of fatalities in motor vehicle accidents involving a driver with a BAC of at least 0.08 for every 100 million vehicle miles traveled based on the most recently report three calendar years.

“Accurate average impaired driving fatality rate estimates will depend largely on whether a state has a comprehensive program for testing and reporting post-accident driver BAC levels, Hersman said.

Hersman noted that between 2005 and 2009, the proportion of fatally injured drivers who tested positive for drugs (illicit, prescription and over-the-counter) rose from 13 to 18 percent

Substance-Impaired Driving is one of 10 issues on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List.

The Trucker staff can be reached for comment at editor@thetrucker.com.

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