A new study conducted in the U.S. focuses on road accidents that occur due to alcohol use. 15% of them involve drivers with blood alcohol concentrations below the permitted limit.
In this study, researchers analyzed the data for U.S motor vehicle crashes in the past 16 years (2000-2015). 37% of the 600,000 cases of motor vehicle deaths discovered traces of alcohol in at least one driver’s blood.
The legal bac limit for someone over 21 is 0.08%. 15% of these cases involved drivers with blood concentration levels below the 0.08%. 55% of deaths occurred in such cases were not restricted to drunk driving.
The study was led by Dr. Timothy Naimi of Boston Medical Center. He said, “their study challenges the popular misconception that alcohol-involved crashes primarily affect drunk drivers, or that BACs below the legal limit doesn’t matter.”
The team published the study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine on March 15.
The investigation resulted in another distressing finding. Crashes involving alcohol levels below 0.08% mostly caused the deaths of young people.
The study also compared the impact of more restrictive alcohol policies. It also found a decrease in the chance of crashes involving nominal alcohol levels. This consistent relationship was observed across a broad range of subgroups and at a legal limit of 0.05%.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board called for reducing the blood alcohol limit to 0.05% from 0.08%. They were also joined by the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Utah became the first state in the U.S to adopt this recommendation.
As Dr. Timothy’s team pointed out, countries with a lower legal limit have witnessed a decline in car crashes.
“Lower-alcohol crashes have been underestimated as a public health problem,” the doctor said.
His research also suggests that more authoritarian alcohol policies will be more effective. They can reduce road accidents involving any level of blood alcohol.
Other emergency physicians have also shared their experiences related to such cases. According to Dr. Robert Glatter, there is sufficient evidence to back this conclusion. He is an emergency physician at a hospital in New York City. However, he was not a part of the study.
The Boston researchers call drunk driving one of the major causes of injury-related deaths in the U.S. They added that although the new study focused on a legal limit of 0.08%, impairment can occur on a level as low as 0.03%.