Drunk driving makes people a danger to themselves and others on the road, and this simple misstep is responsible for a significant number of car accidents and fatalities each year. In order to make West Virginia’s streets safer, leaders must design them with drunk drivers in mind.
The importance of smart policy solutions
There are a number of obstacles that drunk drivers face when behind the wheel. They have trouble judging distances, they have difficulty tracking moving objects and they are more likely to misjudge their own speed. And while personal actions are primarily at fault for these impairments, it’s vital to see drunk driving as a public health issue that demands smart policy solutions.
One such solution is to design the roads in a way that takes into account the fact that drunk drivers will be using them. This can involve things like wider lanes, better lighting, and more visible signage. By making the roads more forgiving, it’s possible to prevent drunk driving accident injuries and save lives.
Another state is leading the way
Utah offers a clear example of savvy policy in action. In 2017, Governor Gary Herbert lowered the standard blood alcohol concentration limit from 0.08% to 0.05%.
Around that time, Utah also expanded its public transit systems by creating express bus lanes, increasing the frequency of service and offering free rides to students. And despite rising alcohol sales in the state, these two measures alone were enough to reduce accidents, traffic-related injuries and drunk driving incidents.
Shifting away from the personal responsibility mindset
These actions are no different from the numerous other public policies that are designed to keep people safe. There are seatbelt laws and child car seat laws because the evidence shows that they work to reduce the number of injuries and deaths.
These policies have been established with an acceptance that humans are fallible and that personal responsibility is not always enough to keep people safe. The same logic must be applied to drunk driving. Doing so could save lives and make West Virginia a safer place for everyone.