NTSB Evaluates States’ Progress on Alcohol-Impaired Driving



​​Chair Calls on State Officials to Break ‘Decade of Inaction’

WASHINGTON (June 30, 2022) — Ahead of the Fourth of July holiday, often one of the deadliest on the nation’s roadways, the National Transportation Safety Board completed a comprehensive review of its recommendations to all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia aimed at combatting alcohol-impaired driving. The effort reveals a troubling lack of action over the past decade.​​

“Eliminating alcohol-impaired driving, which accounts for about a third of all traffic fatalities each year, is an essential step toward our goal of zero traffic deaths,” said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. “As deaths continue to increase, all parts of society share the responsibility for road safety, from vehicle manufacturers to drivers to elected officials at every level. State governments need to break their cycle of complacency before one more family has to plan a funeral — a decade of inaction is inexcusable.”

Nearly 100,000 people have died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes since the NTSB issued its 2013 Reaching Zero report, which recommended that states require alcohol ignition interlock devices and lower the per se blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit to 0.05 or lower for all drivers, among other actions.​

  • ​Interlock recommendation: 14 states and the District of Columbia have taken the necessary action, while 12 states have made progress, but have not completely fulfilled the recommendation. Eight states and Puerto Rico have made no progress.
  • BAC recommendation: Utah is the only state that has lowered its BAC limit in line with the NTSB’s recommendation — with proven success in reducing fatalities and injuries associated with alcohol-impaired driving. While eight states introduced legislation that ultimately failed, the NTSB is disappointed that 43 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have not made any attempt to address its recommendation. More than 100 countries have established per se BAC limits at or below 0.05.​

There is not a one-size-fits-all approach to prevent alcohol-impaired driving. NTSB believes that a layered Safe System approach is needed to address this pervasive safety issue and prevent deaths and injuries on the nation’s roads. Road safety is a shared responsibility; and all parts of the system must be strengthened so that if one part fails, road users are still protected. This includes safe road users, safe speeds, safe roads, safe vehicles, and post-crash care. 

As part of its review, the NTSB sent letters to the governors of all 50 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and to the mayor of the District of Columbia on the status of 10 NTSB safety recommendations as well as further action states should take to eliminate alcohol-impaired driving. See our website for full details on the progress states have made. 

Prevent Alcohol- and Other Drug-Impaired Driving remains on the NTSB’s Most Wanted List of Transportation Safety Improvements. 

To report an incident/accident or if you are a public safety agency, please call 1-844-373-9922 or 202-314-6290 to speak to a Watch Officer at the NTSB Response Operations Center (ROC) in Washington, DC (24/7).