The National Transportation Safety Board is trying to eradicate those deaths. On Wednesday, it recommended that states lower their drunk-driving thresholds from a 0.08 blood-alcohol content to 0.05.
The recommendation is one of several the NTSB made to curtail drunk driving. The agency acknowledged in its report there is no one "silver bullet." It estimated that 500 to 800 lives per year could be saved with the proposed lower limit.
NTSB chairman Deborah Hersman said reaching that goal might be easier than it seems, but the NTSB is aiming even higher. They want zero alcohol-related fatalities.
"Reaching zero deaths from alcohol-impaired driving will be challenging, but the solution is simple," she said.
Not everyone agrees.
"This recommendation is ludicrous," said Sarah Longwell, managing director of the American Beverage Institute. "Moving from 0.08 to 0.05 would criminalize perfectly responsible behavior."
Over the past three decades, approximately 440,000 Americans have been killed in drunk-driving accidents, according to the NTSB. That's more than the current population of Atlanta, Georgia.
The NTSB only makes recommendations, and has little actual regulatory power. It will be up to federal agencies, Congress and state lawmakers to take action.