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Drunk driving concerns taking back seat in Indiana

A few years ago, drunk driving across the country was dropping because of better enforcement and education and using measures such as ignition interlock devices. However, Indiana residents may be concerned to hear that recent years show a disturbing trend where fatal car accidents involving a drunk driver are rising again.

Drunk driving fatalities dropped from 21,000 a year to 10,000 in 2011. However, these deaths rose in 2015 and 2016. There were 10,497 drunk driving deaths in 2016 which was the highest reported number of fatalities since 2009. Drunk driving is responsible for more traffic deaths than speeding or not using a seatbelt.

Public policy on alcohol use is conflicting. Many states have imposed measures to combat drunk driving such as mandatory ignition interlocks for convicted drunk drivers and taxing alcohol to finance public education efforts about drunk driving.

However, Indiana and other 37 states are also removing obstacles to the Sunday sale of alcohol. A few states are also expanding the venues where alcohol can be sold. Congress dropped federal excise taxes on alcohol to $4.2 billion over two years.

Drunk driving concerns also compete, sometimes at a disadvantage, with the national opioid crisis which was responsible for 42,000 deaths in 2016. The federal government declared a national public health emergency over this epidemic while governments are enacting measures to fight this problem. Nonetheless, alcohol remains a popular consumer item even though drinking was responsible for 88,000 deaths each year from car crashes, homicides and health problems.

To combat this problem, the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine and the National Transportation Safety Board recommended that states lower the legal limit for driving from .08 to .05. BAC. This would generally restrict women from driving after two glasses of wine and men after three glasses. States have also adopted measures encouraging the use of ride-sharing services and establishing drunk driving courts that can deal specifically with impaired drivers.

Despite efforts to reduce drunk driving, the fact is that many people nationwide will be injured or killed in an accident caused by a drunk driver. When this happens, drunk driving victims may want to seek compensation for the loss and injuries suffered in these accidents. It is hoped that by doing so, drunk driving victims will obtain the financial resources needed to cover their losses.

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