'Buzzed' Drivers More Likely to Be Blamed for Crashes

Posted on Sat, Feb 01, 2014
'Buzzed' Drivers More Likely to Be Blamed for Crashes

Even minimal blood alcohol levels, well below the U.S. legal limit of 0.08 percent, impair driving

MONDAY, Jan. 27, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Drivers with low levels of blood alcohol content (BAC) are more likely to be found at fault than sober drivers involved in crashes, according to research published online Jan. 7 in Injury Prevention.

David P. Phillips, Ph.D., of the University of California at San Diego in La Jolla, and colleagues examined data for U.S. traffic fatalities to assess the association between the driver's BAC and the degree of official blame for a crash.

The researchers found that "buzzed" drivers with a minimal BAC of 0.01 percent are 46 percent more likely to be officially blamed in a crash with a sober driver. There is no evidence of a threshold effect with impaired driving that starts at the U.S. legal limit for BAC of 0.08 percent. Degree of blame increases nearly linearly with BAC starting from a BAC level of 0.01 percent. These findings persist after controlling for multiple variables.

"There appears to be no safe combination of drinking and driving -- even minimally 'buzzed' drivers pose increased risk to themselves and to others," the authors write. "U.S. legislators should reduce the legal BAC limit, perhaps to 0.05 percent, as in most European countries."

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