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Three percent of fatal truck accidents in 2010 involved alcohol

NHTSA released data on alcohol and accidents in conjunction with the announcement of the annual crackdown on drunk driving. (Associated Press)

The Trucker News Services

8/14/2012

WASHINGTON — Three percent of drivers of large trucks who were involved in a fatal accident in 2010 had any detectable blood alcohol content (BAC), 2 percent of those had a BAC of between .08 and .14. The legal limit in all 50 states and the District of Columbia is .08.

Of those 2 percent above .08 , half had a BAC of .15 or higher.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released 2010 data on alcohol-impaired-driving fatal crashes in conjunction with the announcement of the annual nationwide anti-drunk driving campaign “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over.”

The nationwide crackdown, held in cooperation with with local law enforcement officers, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) and the National Center for DWI Courts, comes as new agency statistics show 70 percent of deaths in drunk driving crashes in 2010 involved drivers with blood alcohol levels that were nearly twice the .08 legal limit.

The percentage of large truck drivers who had any BAC was the lowest among all major categories — passenger car, light truck, large truck, motorcycle, bus and other.

Motorcycle riders registered the highest percentage of alcohol-related accidents.

The data show that 8 percent of motorcycle drivers had a BAC of .01-.07, 10 percent between .08 and .14 and 17 percent above .15.

NHTSA said more than 10,000 police departments and law enforcement agencies across the country will support the campaign beginning August 17 and continuing through the Labor Day holiday weekend.

New NHTSA research indicates the 10,228 alcohol-impaired fatalities in 2010 accounted for nearly one out of three highway deaths on U.S. roads – the equivalent of one death every 51 minutes. During the same time period, more than two thirds of drunk driving deaths (7,145 or 70 percent) involved drivers with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .15 or higher. Overall, the most frequently recorded BAC among drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes was .18 BAC.

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As part of its overall program to address drunk driving, NHTSA has also worked with the National Center for DWI Courts to help develop new ignition interlock guidelines, which were released last month. Alcohol ignition interlock systems require drivers to blow into a breathalyzer-like device – usually installed on a vehicle's dashboard – to ensure the individual is sober before allowing the vehicle to start. The new guidelines help familiarize courts that adjudicate "driving while intoxicated” cases with ignition interlock systems and applicable state laws.

"The latest numbers tell us people are not only making poor decisions and drinking and driving – they are getting deeply intoxicated before getting behind the wheel,” said NHTSA Administrator David L. Strickland. "The best way to keep our roadways safe is to ensure that law enforcement and other part. ners have the information they need to tackle the problem head on. With these guidelines, DWI courts now have an important tool to help keep drunk drivers from putting others at risk.”

Strickland said targeting drivers in the final weeks of summer through the Labor Day holiday weekend, NHTSA's annual "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown is focused on reducing the tragic toll caused by impaired drivers every year. The efforts involve more than 10,000 police departments and other law enforcement agencies across the nation, who will be redoubling their efforts during this period.

Coinciding with enforcement efforts in communities nationwide, NHTSA will air advertisements in major media markets across the country featuring "invisible” law enforcement officers observing alcohol-impaired individuals unseen before apprehending them when they attempt to drive their vehicles. The ads convey the message that law enforcement officers are both omnipresent and vigilant in deterring drunk drivers. The ad theme and slogan will comprise the agency's core drunk driving message for 2011-2016.

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

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