How British Columbia cut its drunken driving fatalities in half

BY newsdesk  September 13, 2013 at 4:52 PM EDT

PBS NewsHour Weekend’s William Brangham reports on changes to drinking and driving laws in British Columbia that have led to a roughly 50 percent decrease in alcohol-related driving fatalities over the past two years.

Officials in the Canadian province ramped up penalties on drivers whose blood alcohol level tested at .05, rather than .08, the current legal standard. Police are also authorized to immediately impound the cars of drivers who test at the .05 level.

Canada is not the only country reconsidering blood alcohol content limits. In May, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board recommended lowering the legal limit to .05 in an attempt to further curb drunken and reckless driving deaths.

“Most Americans think that we’ve solved the problem of impaired driving, but in fact, it’s still a national epidemic,” NTSB Chairman Deborah A.P. Hersman said. “On average, every hour, one person is killed and 20 more are injured.”

The chart below shows blood alcohol concentration limits around the globe utilizing data from The International Center on Alcohol Policies.

Watch the full report on PBS NewsHour Weekend, Saturday, Sept. 14.