Alcohol-impaired driving results in thousands of deaths and hundreds of thousands of injuries in the United States each year. In addition, the societal costs of these consequences exceed $129 billion each year. The substantial progress made between 1982 and 1997 in reducing the fatal consequences of impaired driving has stalled for the past 15 years. Impaired-driving legislation adopted in the states has played a key role in the reductions experienced in the 1980s and 1990s. Setting illegal per se limits on the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for driving and the adoption of administrative license revocation or suspension sanctions for drivers arrested for driving while intoxicated have been shown to be effective as general deterrents to driving after drinking alcohol. It is currently illeal, per se, for anyone aged 21 or older to operate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08 g/dL (grams per deciliter) or greater in all states and the District of Columbia (DC). One way to resume progress in reducing impaired-driving fatalities is to lower the illegal BAC limit for driving from .08 g/dL to .05 g/dL. The illegal limit is .05 BAC in numerous countries around the world, and several international studies indicate that lowering the illegal per se limit from .08 to .05 g/dL BAC also reduces alcohol-related fatalities. Most of those international studies have been obtained, and for the remaining reports, a comprehensive literature search will be conducted. A meta-analysis of the qualified studies will be conducted to estimate the overall effectiveness of reducing the BAC limit from .08 to .05 if it is implemented in the United States. Several studies have been conducted on the implementation and effectiveness of .08 BAC laws in individual and groups of states;however, no single study has covered all 50 states and DC. This study will fill that gap by determining the overall effectiveness obtained by reducing the illegal per se BAC limit for driving from .10 g/dL to .08 g/dL in all 50 states and DC. To accomplish this, a consistent outcome measure?drinking drivers in fatal crashes as a ratio to nondrinking drivers in fatal crashes?and an identical methodology?timeseries ARIMA analysis?will be used to estimate the lives saved due to the adoption of .08 BAC in all the states and DC up through 2011. Total lives saved since 1983 when the first two .08 BAC per se laws went into effect will be estimated. The results from this study will be integrated and a weighted result of the effectiveness of lowering the BAC to .05 in each state and the United States as a whole will be developed. Ultimately, this study will help state policy makers gain a better understanding of the benefits of lowering the illegal BAC limit to .05 g/dL, based on its proven effectiveness both in the United States and abroad.

Public Health Relevance

Alcohol-impaired driving has resulted in an annual average of 12,000 deaths, more than 200,000 people injured, and a societal cost that exceeds $129 billion each year over the past 5 years. The substantial progress made between 1982 and 1997 in reducing the impaired-driving fatalities has stalled for the past 15 years. Lowering illegal per se limits on the blood alcohol concentration for driving has been an effective general deterrent to driving after drinking alcohol. It is currently illegal, per se, for drivers aged 21 or older to oprate a motor vehicle with a BAC of .08g/dL or greater in all states and the District of Columbia. One way to resume progress in reducing impaired-driving fatalities is to lower the illegal BAC limit fo driving from .08 g/dL to .05 g/dL in the states, as other industrialized nations have done. We propose to estimate the potential effect on lives saved that this legislation might have if states begin to adopt a .05 BAC limit.

Agency
National Institute of Health (NIH)
Type
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
Project #
5R21AA022171-02
Application #
8728707
Study Section
Biomedical Research Review Subcommittee (AA)
Program Officer
Bloss, Gregory
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
2
Fiscal Year
2014
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
Name
Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
Beltsville
State
MD
Country
United States
Zip Code
20705