Advocates’ Statement on International Award for Utah’s .05% BAC Law

  • December 12, 2017
150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                        

December 12, 2017

Contact: Eric Naing 202-408-1711, cell: 217-493-8294, enaing@saferoads.org

 

STATEMENT OF JACKIE GILLAN, PRESIDENT OF

ADVOCATES FOR HIGHWAY AND AUTO SAFETY,

LAUDING UTAH FOR RECEIVING AN INTERNATIONAL ROAD SAFETY AWARD FOR ENACTMENT OF NEW DRUNK DRIVING LAW

Adoption of .05 Percent BAC Law Advances Public Safety and Will Prevent Needless Deaths and Injuries from Drunk Driving Crashes on Utah Roads

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) congratulates Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) and the Utah State Legislature, the Department of Public Safety and the Department of Transportation on collectively receiving the Prince Michael International Road Safety Award. The award recognizes achievement and innovation in road safety and is a well-deserved honor for Utah after enacting a law to lower the legal limit of alcohol-impaired driving from .08 to .05 percent blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Utah’s first-in-the-nation .05 percent BAC law is an effective countermeasure that will save lives and reduce preventable deaths and injuries from drunk driving crashes.

This recognition of Utah’s .05 percent BAC law is very timely. Overall traffic fatalities and alcohol-involved traffic fatalities increased in the state in 2016, according to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2016, alcohol-involved fatalities claimed the lives of 59 people on Utah roads, accounting for 21 percent of all traffic fatalities.

Fortunately, drunk driving is a preventable problem and known countermeasures are available. Widely accepted internationally, .05 percent BAC laws are backed by scientific research, data, and real-world outcomes. Over a hundred countries have already changed their laws to .05 percent BAC. In these countries, research shows that the average alcohol consumption is the same or higher than in the U.S., while their alcohol-related deaths are much lower.

The World Health Organization and other public health and safety organizations also recognize a .05 percent BAC limit as a best practice. The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended that all 50 states establish a .05 percent BAC limit and included the recommendation on its 2017-2018 Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. The support for lowering BAC is diverse and strong, and for good reason. Studies have estimated that if all states were to adopt the .05 BAC limit, and it was enforced, an estimated 500–800 lives could be saved each year in the U.S.

Alcohol-impaired driving is a nationwide epidemic. According to NHTSA, nearly 10,500 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes in 2016. That’s one alcohol-impaired driving fatality every 50 minutes. Alcohol-impaired crashes also led to $44 billion in economic costs in 2010, the most recent year for which cost data is available. This figure jumps to over $200 billion when quality-of-life valuations are considered.

Advocates commends Governor Gary Herbert (R)bill cosponsors Senator Stuart J. Adams (R) and Representative Norm Thurston (R), the State Legislature, the Utah Department of Public Safety, and the Department of Transportation for their leadership and commitment to public safety. We encourage lawmakers in the other 49 states and the District of Columbia to follow their leadership. Too many people are killed in preventable drunk driving crashes and Utah’s law is a research-backed, commonsense solution.

 

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