Safety Group Supports New Blood Alcohol Content Rules
Fewer occupational traffic injuries could result from a lower blood alcohol content, suggests an occupational safety and health organization. The American Society of Safety Engineers is lending its support to a federal agency’s efforts to encourage lower BACs throughout the nation.
In a letter to Christopher A. Hart, acting chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board, ASSE says it backs the push to encourage states to reduce the legal standard of driving impairment due to alcohol consumption based on BAC from 0.08 percent to 0.05 percent.
“Our members know how to work with employers to manage the risks that come with workers on our highways,” the letter states. “But they need the appropriate support of government and law enforcement to reduce the chance that, despite their best efforts, a worker will be the victim of the alcohol-impaired driving of another driver.”
Transportation incidents are the leading cause of occupational deaths in the U.S., according to the group. More than two out of five fatal work injuries in 2012 were the result of a transportation incident. Getting more drunk drivers off the roads will help.
“Where we are today is no longer satisfactory, as witnessed by the continuing and unacceptable loss of life, personal injury, property damage and lost productivity our nation feels every day due to impaired driver-caused motor vehicle crashes.” — The American Society of Safety Engineers
“The facts are clear.” the letter says, “The number of highway fatalities in the USA remains unduly high, and that about one-third of all fatal crashes involve a driver under the influence of alcohol.”
While getting all U.S. jurisdictions to change their BAC levels will be challenging, the idea is not unprecedented. The ASSE notes that the per se BAC was previously reduced from 0.10 percent to 0.08 percent, and commercial driver’s license holders have a limit of 0.04 percent.
“Solutions to support broad-based practical enforcement of a new standard will need to be developed,” the letter says. “Governments have faced similar challenges before, and they have been successful in getting us where we are today. But where we are today is no longer satisfactory, as witnessed by the continuing and unacceptable loss of life, personal injury, property damage and lost productivity our nation feels every day due to impaired driver-caused motor vehicle crashes.”
Lowering the BAC level is just one tool in the effort to keep drivers safe, the ASSE notes. The organization also endorses better education for drivers and empowering more employers with ways to address the risk of impaired driving.
“To that end, ASSE also supports the development of appropriate engineered safeguards such as BAC-activated ignition locks, in-vehicle BAC sensors, and similar equipment,” according to the letter. “We strongly encourage employers to initiate and implement improved employee safe driving policies that include this reduced BAC standard. And we support efforts by law enforcement and the legal system to enforce diligently this standard to advance the safety of the public and those workers who use our transportation systems.”