Deseret News: Proposal to lower blood alcohol level could improve driving safety, researcher says

(Deseret News) Would lowering the legal limit for a driver’s blood alcohol level make Utah roads safer?

A local public policy think tank believes so and is joining an effort to reduce the legal level nationwide.

Arguing it would reduce fatal accidents, the National Transportation Safety Board in May called on all 50 states to lower the blood alcohol level that defines drunken driving to 0.05 percent. Utah’s limit is 0.08 percent.

The NTSB noted that more than 100 countries already have limits of 0.05 percent, including most nations in Europe, much of South America and Australia. When Australia dropped its blood alcohol level to 0.05 percent, there was a 5 percent to 18 percent drop in traffic fatalities in various areas, according to the NTSB.

Lowering the rate to 0.05 would save about 500 to 800 lives annually in the U.S., the safety board said.

The Salt Lake City-based nonprofit Sutherland Institute favors the change on the basis that lives would be saved, according to public policy director Derek Monson.

“We think it’s good for public safety and for public health,” he said. “(Research suggests) that it is clear that 0.05 is a much safer standard than 0.08 in terms of your ability to drive safely, as well as the reality of people getting into accidents and causing other harm.”

Click here to read the rest of this story by Jasen Lee at the Deseret News website.