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4/21/2014 - Even low doses of alcohol too much for driving, report finds


Even a slight amount of alcohol increases the risk of filing an auto insurance claim due to a car crash.

While the law may prevent any motorist from driving if they have a blood alcohol level at or above 0.08, even a slight amount of alcohol increases the risk of filing an auto insurance claim due to a car crash.

That's the conclusion of a group of scientists from the University of California, San Diego. Published in the British medical journal Injury Prevention, researchers pored over crash data involving more than 570,700 deadly collisions that occurred between 1994 and 2011. They also analyzed the causes of those accidents, specifically those where alcohol was involved. In instances where BAC levels were well below 0.08 - as low as 0.01, in some instances - there was a 46% higher chance that those people were deemed to be "solely responsible" for causing the collision by investigators.

David Phillips, the study's lead author and professor of Sociology from the San Diego-based university, stressed that there is no such thing as a blood alcohol content level that's conducive for operating a motor vehicle.

"We find no safe combination of drinking and driving - no point at which it is harmless to consume alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car," said Phillips. Our data support both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's campaign that 'Buzzed driving is drunk driving' and the recommendation made by the National Transportation Safety Board, to reduce the legal limit to BAC 0.05%."

He added that this is one of the first studies to comprehensively examine the effects of a small amount of alcohol being in one's bloodstream and how that affects cognition and awareness while driving.

Safety organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving has made 2014 a year for reform, hoping to encourage all 50 states to adopt ignition interlock laws, preventing drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel in an impaired state. Thus far, 20 states have this type of legislation in place.


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