Are lower legal blood alcohol limits and a combination of sanctions desirable in reducing drunken driver-involved traffic fatalities and traffic accidents?

Accid Anal Prev. 1996 Nov;28(6):721-31. doi: 10.1016/s0001-4575(96)00047-4.


In 1970 and 1978, a set of strict new countermeasures against drunk driving went in to effect in Japan. Analysis of official statistics of motor vehicle fatality data have indicated that alcohol involvement in fatal crashes has declined substantially in Japan since 1970. From the beginning of 1970 to the late 1980s and 1990s, public awareness of and tolerance for the problem of alcohol-impaired driving changed dramatically, as shown in this study. Further it seems that attitudes in Japan on drink driving have improved over the last 20 years or so, instep with a major program of government action. As well as being part of a long running campaign to reduce alcohol related road deaths and injuries, these accident savings are an important part of a national strategy which began in 1970, comprising a well structured legislative program introducing a lower legal limit, progressive penalties for those above the legal limit, over and above Police enforcement strategies underpinning the law and reinforcing the publicity massage. Enactment of the lower legal blood alcohol level with a combination of other severe sanctions is desirable for prevention of alcohol-related traffic casualties, DWI, and accidents, which is shown in this study. Finally, much of the current reduction in alcohol-related fatalities and morbidity reflects that Japanese society has largely endorsed alcohol impaired driving as a socially undesirable behavior. However, this study suggests that it is necessary for policy makers to understand that the DUI problem in Japan must be handled with diverse approaches, rather than relying exclusively on the deterrence based laws.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Accidents, Traffic / mortality
  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Alcohol Drinking / blood
  • Alcohol Drinking / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Alcohol Drinking / mortality
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / blood
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / mortality
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / prevention & control*
  • Ethanol / pharmacokinetics*
  • Humans
  • Japan / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Survival Analysis


  • Ethanol