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Study: Even a little alcohol leads to deadly car accidents

Posted On Wed, June 22, 2011

While the legal blood-alcohol limit for drivers may be .08, a new study is finding that even a trace amount of alcohol can lead to traffic accident fatalities.

According to research from the University of California, San Diego, even low blood-alcohol levels are linked with fatal accidents and severe injuries in car accidents.

Researchers arrived at their conclusion after reviewing data from more than 4.4 million accidents between the years of 1994 and 2008 from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, deciphering accident severity by examining the ratio of severe injuries to ones that weren't quite as critical.

"Accidents are 36.6 percent more severe even when alcohol was barely detectable in a driver’s blood," said sociologist David Phillips, who led the research.

Phillips went on to say he hopes his study will lead legislators to reduce the legal blood-alcohol limit even lower, citing Germany, Japan and Sweden as three countries where the legal BAC is .05 or lower.

"Doing so is very likely to reduce incapacitating injuries and to save lives," said Phillips.

Auto insurance companies are aware of the inherent risks associated with drinking and driving, which is why some insurers may drop motorists from a policy if they're convicted of operating a vehicle while impaired.


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