Blood Alcohol and Crashes

No Safe Alcohol Level When Driving

Although a blood alcohol level of .08% is the legal limit for driving in the US, a new study has established that any amount of alcohol in the blood increases the chance for a crash.

According to a study led by David Phillips and Kimberly M. Brewer, of UC San Diego, blood alcohol levels much lower than the legal limit are associated with a greater number of crashes involving incapacitating injury and death.  The results were published in the journal Addiction.

Phillips said that “Accidents are 36.6 percent more severe even when alcohol was barely detectable in a driver's blood.”  The study revealed that even with a BAC of 0.01%, there are 4.33 serious injuries for every non-serious injury, compared with 3.17 for sober drivers.

He went on to say that “Compared with sober drivers, buzzed drivers are more likely to speed, more likely to be improperly seat-belted and more likely to drive the striking vehicle, all of which are associated with greater severity….Up till now, BAC limits have been determined not only by rational considerations and by empirical findings but also by political and cultural factors.  We hope that our study might influence not only U.S. legislators, but also foreign legislators, in providing empirical evidence for lowering the legal BAC even more. Doing so is very likely to reduce incapacitating injuries and to save lives.”

The research was funded by the Marian E. Smith Foundation.