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Tightening alcohol laws can reduce alcohol-related crash fatalities, says study

May 31, 2018 alcohol


Tightening alcohol laws can reduce alcohol-related crash fatalities, says study

With 29 people succumbing to alcohol-impaired motor vehicle crashes every day in the United States, as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the need of hour is stricter regulations. In this context, a recent study has suggested that strengthening state alcohol policies by a mere 10 percent can effectively pull down alcohol-related crash fatalities by 10 percent.

According to the study conducted by Dr. Timothy Naimi, an alcohol policy expert at Boston Medical Center’s Clinical Addiction Research and Education Unit, since the alcohol-related policies in the U.S. vary from state to state, it is important that all the states which are remotely or do not at all target impaired driving strengthen their policies.

“This was a really big study. We looked at more than 500,000 crash deaths. For every 1 percent increase in the toughness of state policies, there was a 1 percent reduction of alcohol-related crashes,” said Dr. Naimi.

The U.S. reduced the minimum drinking age to 21 years and legal blood alcohol concentration for drivers to 0.08 percent across all the 50 states and District of Columbia in 2004. The reforms, coupled with laws like ignition interlocks for individuals convicted of alcohol-impaired driving, have helped in significant reduction in the number of vehicle crash fatalities and alcohol-related motor vehicle crash fatalities. However, the proportion of alcohol-related crash fatalities remained high, added the study.

Increasing alcohol taxes can help bring down alcohol-related crash deaths

During the study, the researchers took into account the data on crash deaths from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and used previously developed scales of 29 policies implemented across the U.S. They noticed that tightening of laws like increasing alcohol taxes could be an effective tool in bringing down the crash deaths due to drinking. According to the economic literature also, increasing the prices of alcohol or imposing a restriction on its availability can reduce the number of drivers with alcohol blood levels below the current legal one.

Further, strengthening other policies like Sunday sales laws, limitations on store licensing, false ID laws, laws on selling to minors, limiting home delivery, restricting hours of sales, liability for house parties and open-container laws can also significantly contribute in lowering the death rate for alcohol-impaired crashes.

“That was the second major finding of the study,” added Naimi, highlighting that in most of the alcohol-impaired crashes, the drivers have blood alcohol limits as low as 0.05 percent. Hence, the study pointed toward the laws that are independently protective for alcohol-related crash fatalities. Amidst, it is important for the lawmakers to revisit the existing policies in parallel to the real statistics and data.

Dealing with alcoholism

Road crashes and fatalities are some of the severe consequences of alcohol abuse addiction. Excessive alcohol intake can also result in serious conditions like liver cirrhosis, cancer, substance abuse or development of a mental disorder like depression. Hence, it is advisable to seek immediate medical help with the onset of symptoms of alcoholism. Often, many try to quit alcohol on their own by going cold turkey. However, doing so can be harmful, as it can become difficult to cope with the consequent alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Thus, if looking for alcohol treatment centers, get in touch with Recover Mental Health for further information. Call our 24/7 helpline number (866) 593-2339 or chat online with an expert to know about the best alcohol rehab treatment center suited to your needs.

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