What Can Be Done to Stop Drunk Driving Crashes in Missouri?

Every 49 minutes, one person dies in a drunk driving crash in the United States.  Is there anything that can be done to reduce fatal crashes caused by drunk drivers?

The U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is a private, nonprofit organization.  It was asked by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to develop solutions to the drunk driving crisis.  In January 2018, the group published a report titled Getting to Zero Alcohol-Impaired Driving Fatalities: A Comprehensive Approach to a Persistent Problem, which outlines just how serious drunk driving is in the United States and what can be done to stop it.

First, a look at how prevalent drunk driving crashes are and their devastating impacts.  Per the report:

·         Since 1982, one-third of all motor vehicle deaths in the country were from alcohol-impaired crashes.

·         29 people each day die in a drunk driving crash in the United States

·         Nearly 40 percent of those who die in drunk driving accidents are not the impaired drivers

·         In 2016, 214 children 14 and younger were killed by a drunk driver

In terms of answers to stopping drunk truck drivers and drunk car drivers, the report turns largely to the government.

Increase Alcohol Tax to Reduce Drunk Driving in Missouri

It recommends that federal and state governments – like Missouri’s – hike sales taxes on alcohol significantly. It reports a direct link to higher alcohol taxes and fewer fatal drunk driving crashes.  It states, however, that federal and state alcohol sales taxes actually have declined over the years when accounting for inflation.

The authors also call upon federal and state governments to strengthen existing laws to prevent illegal alcohol sales, such as sales to underage individuals, and beef up resources to enforce their laws.

Drunk Drivers in Missouri

They want state governments to lower legal illegal blood alcohol concentration levels to .05 percent, and aggressively educate the public to the lower level.  Missouri’s blood alcohol concentration level is .08 percent.  For truck drivers in Missouri and other states, the illegal blood alcohol concentration is .04 percent.  A much lower drunk driving threshold for truckers is just common sense, given that fully loaded rigs can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds.

On a more local level, the organization calls for municipalities as well as state law enforcement officers to conduct sobriety checkpoints more frequently.  Cities should do more to promote safe transportation alternatives for those who drink and then must get home or some other destination.

And stating that repeat drunk drivers are 62 percent more likely to be in a fatal crash, the report recommends a stepped-up effort for substance abuse treatment in the courts and the health care system.

These are all sound recommendations, but they can only do so much.  Driver error remains the top cause of truck and car crashes.  The negligent choice to drink and drive is a driver error that far too often has catastrophic consequences.

If you were seriously injured or had a family member killed by a drunk driver, turn to a motor vehicle accident lawyer to investigate and hold accountable all those responsible for the crash.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertisements.

Authored by Gray, Ritter & Graham, P.C., posted in Articles January 31, 2018