10,000 Deaths a Year

drunkDrunk driving is one of the most serious and dangerous problems we face here in the United States, but what can be done? Many countries from around the globe have tried different methods, some more extreme than others, to varying results.

In Malaysia, they can arrest your spouse as well, even if they weren’t present for the incident. In some places in Australia, you’ll get publicly shamed in the newspaper, while in Singapore they skip all that and just nail you with a $5,000 fine and six months in jail – repeat offenders having those numbers increased by 500 percent. Perhaps a personal favorite, some small town drunk drivers in Turkey will be taken 20 miles outside the city by the cops and left there to walk back.

That aside, when it comes to tagging how drunk a driver is, it becomes clear from a planetary view that the United States sets the bar a bit higher than most other countries. And while data is hard to interpret due to an astounding number of factors, one thing that’s for certain is that according to the National Transportation Safety Board a reduction of the current standard of 0.08 percent blood-alcohol concentration to a 0.05 figure should curtail even more accidents that occur by way of those that are impaired enough to cause the accidents, but don’t test high enough for a DUII. The punishments in this country, while they don’t involve flogging or public shaming, do work – and the 0.08 standard that was developed a decade ago has been estimated to have prevented about 10,000 fatalities a year.

All in all, we still saw 10,228 drunk driving related fatalities in 2010 along. That’s three more needless deaths per every 100,000 Americans. Something has got to be done, and it’s likely that a lowering of the legal limit will only be part of the multi-pronged approach that will finally minimize these senseless tragedies.

by Tom Baker

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