To lower the number of traffic-related deaths, the National Academies advisory committee calls for the implementation of preventive policies that include reducing the current blood alcohol concentration limit to 0.05 percent. All states have 0.08 thresholds. It calls for lowering the blood-alcohol concentration threshold from 0.08 to 0.05.
The amount of alcohol required to reach 0.05 would depend on several factors, including the person's size and whether the person has recently eaten. For most women, the lower limit would mean a maximum of two drinks; for most men, three drinks.
The panel also recommended that states significantly increase alcohol taxes and make alcohol less conveniently available, including reducing the hours and days alcohol is sold in stores, bars and restaurants.
All the proposals are likely to draw fierce opposition from the alcohol and restaurant industries. The American Beverage Institute took out full-page newspaper ads opposing Utah's new law that featured a fake mugshot under a large headline reading, "Utah: Come for vacation, leave on probation". Not only does the report talk of bringing down the permissible alcohol level but it has also recommended that extra taxes be clubbed together with stricter restrictions on the purchase of alcohol to curb down the sales as well.
The report points out that "alcohol-impaired driving remains the deadliest and costliest danger on US roads", accounting for 28 percent of traffic deaths. Each day, 29 people in the USA die in alcohol-related crashes and many more are injured.
Rural areas are also disproportionately hit by the phenomenon. Almost half of drunk-driving deaths occur in those rural areas.
The problem, the report states, is costly.
"The plateauing fatality rates indicate that what has been done to decrease deaths from alcohol-impaired driving has been working but is no longer sufficient to reverse this growing public health problem", Committee Chair Steven Teutsch said.
While progress has been made in recent decades, more than 10,000 drunk driving deaths still occur each year in the United States.
The benefit can be seen in the more than 100 countries that enforce a 0.05 percent level, the report says. The safety board has also recommended the 0.05 threshold. "They are more affordable, of far greater variety, and more widely advertised and promoted than in earlier periods", the report said.