Seven Oaks


Sponsored By:

   The Nation  |  Business  |  Equipment  |  Features


NTSB issues 19 recommendations to end drunken driving; ‘epidemic,’ Hersman says

“Most Americans think that we’ve solved the problem of impaired driving, but in fact, it’s still a national epidemic,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said. “On average, every hour one person is killed and 20 more are injured.”

The Trucker News Services

5/14/2013

WASHINGTON – The National Transportation Safety Board Tuesday released a set of targeted interventions to put the country on a course to eliminate alcohol-impaired driving crashes.

The 19 recommendations call for stronger laws, swifter enforcement and expanded use of technology.

“Most Americans think that we’ve solved the problem of impaired driving, but in fact, it’s still a national epidemic,” NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said. “On average, every hour one person is killed and 20 more are injured.”

The announcement drew immediate praise from the head of the American Trucking Associations.

“All motorists should support reducing the instances of impaired driving” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. “The trucking industry is held, and holds itself, to a higher standard and we are encouraged by NTSB’s recommendations to bolster efforts to reduce drunk and drugged driving for all motorists.”

The NTSB’s recommendations come a day after Graves wrote to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood again urging him to move forward on a process to allow motor carriers to collect hair samples for DOT-required drug testing in lieu of the currently mandated urine testing process.

Among other things, the NTSB recommended reducing the legal limit for drunk driving to a BAC of 0.05 from 0.08 in all states, increasing the use of interlock devices, strengthening penalties for repeat offenders and increasing high-visibility enforcement.

Graves said the ATA’s safety agenda supports all of those recommendations.

In making the recommendation for lowering the legal limit to 0.05, NTSB investigators

cited research that showed that although impairment begins with the first drink and that by 0.05 BAC, most drivers experience a decline in both cognitive and visual functions, which significantly increases the risk of a serious crash.

Currently, over 100 countries on six continents have BAC limits set at 0.05 or lower.

“The research clearly shows that drivers with a BAC above 0.05 are impaired and at a significantly greater risk of being involved in a crash where someone is killed or injured,” said Hersman.

Each year in the United States, nearly 10,000 people are killed in crashes involving alcohol-impaired drivers and more than 173,000 are injured, with 27,000 suffer incapacitating injuries, the NTSB said in releasing the recommendations.

Since the mid-1990s, even as total highway fatalities have fallen, the proportion of deaths from accidents involving an alcohol-impaired driver has remained constant at around 30 percent, the NTSB said, noting that in the last 30 years, nearly 440,000 people have died in alcohol-related crashes.

“Alcohol-impaired crashes are not accidents,” said Hersman. “They are crimes. They can — and should — be prevented. The tools exist. What is needed is the will.”

Sen. Frank R. Lautenberg, D-N.J., applauded the inclusion of the recommendation require the use of ignition interlock technology after a person’s first drunk driving conviction.

Lautenberg said he planned to reintroduce legislation in the coming days to keep drunk drivers off the road by requiring the use of ignition interlock technology.

“Requiring ignition interlock technology for drunk driving offenders is a smart and easy way to stop some of the most dangerous drivers from getting behind the wheel,” Lautenberg said.

Currently, 14 states have mandatory ignition interlock provisions for all drunken driving offenders: Alaska, Arkansas, Connecticut, Hawaii, Kansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Nebraska, Virginia, Washington, New York, and Oregon. 

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

Find more news and analysis from The Trucker, and share your thoughts, on Facebook.