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NTSB targets auto accident deaths caused by impaired drivers

According to the National Transportation Safety Board, one-third of highway fatalities in this country involved a drunk driver. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that Connecticut suffered 97 deaths in drunk driving accidents in 2014.

The NTSB emphasizes that impaired driving is not limited to alcohol. Illegal drugs, as well as prescription and over-the-counter medications can also diminish one's ability to safely drive a vehicle. The NHTSA reported that the number of motorists killed in an auto accident with drugs in their systems grew from 13 percent to 18 percent from 2005-2009. In 2012, 10.3 million motorists admitted driving under the influence of illegal drugs within the past year.

To combat this problem, the NTSB has announced that ending substance impairment in transportation is one of its "most wanted" safety improvements for 2016.

The NTSB recommends that states lower the legal limit for driving from 0.08 to 0.05. It notes that the risk of a fatal accident doubles when the BAC reaches 0.08.

The NTSB also recommends more use of sobriety checkpoints and other high-visibility measures. It argues for greater use of ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers. DWI courts, similar to drug courts, can also provide a specific approach for treatment and supervision of repeat offenders. It also urges the development and use of new technology such as a system that uses touch-based or breath-based systems to detect drivers' alcohol use.

The agency wants more data connecting the amount of drugs consumed with impaired driving. Drivers need more information on the risks of driving after taking prescription or over-the-counter drugs and should consult more with their physicians, according to the NTSB.

Motorists and passengers who suffer injuries involving another driver impaired by alcohol or drugs can benefit from seeking prompt legal advice to protect their right to compensation. An experienced personal injury attorney can conduct a thorough investigation and make a strong case for monetary damages.

Source: National Transportation Safety Board, "End substance impairment in transportation," Accessed Jan. 18, 2016

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