Only 14 states and the District of Columbia have taken the necessary steps to require alcohol ignition interlocks — a key action recommended by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) in 2013.
That finding is among several in a new report from the NTSB, which is a comprehensive review of states’ actions connected to curbing drunk driving over the past decade. The findings are troubling.
Regarding the NTSB’s push for states to require ignition interlocks, while 14 achieved the goal, another 12 states have made progress but have not fully completed the task. Even worse, eight states — California, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, North Dakota, Ohio, Rhode Island, and South Dakota — as well as Puerto Rico, have made no progress at all.
On the upside, in 2013 there was no need for the NTSB to make the recommendation to 17 states because those states had already addressed the issue.
In its original report, the NTSB also recommended that states lower the per se blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit to 0.05 or lower for all drivers. Noteworthy, over 100 countries have already established per se BAC limits at or below 0.05.
However, in the new report, NTSB reveals that Utah is the only state that has lowered its BAC limit to comply with the NTSB recommendation. Evidence indicates that the strategy is saving lives in the Beehive State. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration did a study that found traffic deaths in Utah decreased after the state enacted a law to lower its impaired driving legal limit to .05 in 2018. Utah’s fatal crash and fatality rates decreased 19.8% and 18.3%, respectively — a significant improvement over the rest of the country.
But other states are failing to take action to follow the NTSB recommendation. Eight states introduced legislation to lower the BAC limit to 0.05, but the bills floundered and were never enacted. More disheartening, 43 states, the District of Columba, and Puerto Rico have not made any attempt to address the recommendation.
In 2020, some 11,654 people lost their lives in drunk-driving crashes — that’s one person every 45 minutes.