Traffic safety policy should be determined by data-driven science, not underpinned by shaky research and faulty assumptions

Washington, D.C.—Today, the American Beverage Institute (ABI) released the Utah Legislative Primer: Bias in Traffic Safety Research. The one-page document—sent to all Utah legislators—highlights the campaign mounted in Utah by the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) to pass the .05 law and the unsettled science it relied upon.

During the legislative fight, Utah lawmakers depended heavily on information from the NTSB—which is not a traditional government agency and has no regulatory or enforcement power—to support lowering the DUI threshold from 0.08 to 0.05 BAC. Sadly, the NTSB recommendations were rooted in the work of researchers like James Fell and Robert Voas, who have a long history of conducting misleading traffic safety research. This combined with the NTSB’s reliance on the so-called “deterrence effect” to justify the benefits of .05 make the conclusions drawn in support of the law questionable at best.

Read the Utah Legislative Primer on traffic safety research bias here.

Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute, released the following statement:

We all want to save lives, but you can’t build traffic safety policy off of misleading information and shoddy research. Supporters of the .05 law, such as Rep. Norman Thurston, shouldn’t blindly follow the recommendations of an agency that spews information based on faulty assumptions—especially since the NTSB is not a legitimate authority on traffic safety policy and their only intended purpose is to investigate major transportation accidents and hazardous material releases. Instead of targeting moderate, social drinkers, Utah lawmakers need to focus on high-BAC and repeat offenders who are responsible for a vast majority of alcohol related fatalities—a move that is supported by data from the legitimate federal authority on traffic safety, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). It’s time to repeal the .05 law and replace it with policies backed by data-driven science, not a misinformation campaign.

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