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Will reducing the legal limit reduce drunk driving fatalities?

Every year, thousands of people are injured or killed in accidents caused by drivers who are not legally over the driving limit, but who still have a good deal of alcohol in their systems. Due to the fact that 10,000 people are still dying every year in drunk driving accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board recently made the recommendation for the blood-alcohol concentration level to be reduced.

Currently, the driving limit in Iowa -- and the other 49 states -- is 0.08. Under the NTSB proposal, the driving limit would be reduced to 0.05 percent. This would fall more in-line with most of the rest of the industrialized world where the legal driving limit is lower. In turn, the board states these foreign countries with stricter standards also have fewer fatal accidents involving drunk drivers.

In addition to a reduced legal driving limit, other NTSB recommendations include requiring interlock devices in the cars of all convicted drunk drivers. The idea is this will stop repeat offenders and heavier drinkers from continuing to get behind the wheel time and time again after drinking, which is a behavior that puts other innocent people in danger.

Overall, in the past two decades there has been a significant decrease in the number of fatal drunk driving accidents on U.S. roadways. In looking at why, during this time the legal limit was reduced to 0.08 percent and car technology and safety attitudes changed with better vehicle design and more seat belt use among drivers and passengers. The highways have also gotten substantially better. 

However, even though the decrease is good, the fact that 10,000 people are killed every year in drunk driving-related accidents is still alarming and enough of a reason to look into making changes. 

But as an Iowa driver, what do you think of the proposed change to make the legal driving limit a little more stricter? Will reducing the driving limit to 0.05 percent make a huge difference?

Source: The New York Times, “Safety Board Considers Lowering of Legal Limit for Drunken Driving,” Matthew L. Wald, May 14, 2013

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