Road Safety News
 

Influential bodies ask Government to lower drink-drive limit

Friday 9th March 2012

An open letter, sent from the House of Lords and asking the Government to lower the drink drive limit, was published in The Times on 6 March.

The letter was signed by a number of influential public health, academic and safety organisations, including the All Party Group on Alcohol Misuse. It asks the Government “to support the recommendation by Sir Peter North” and not “to leave only Britain and Malta in Western Europe with a higher limit”.

The full text of the letter reads as follows:

We are convinced that the Government should support the recommendation by Sir Peter North, in his report published in 2010 commissioned by the previous government, that the blood/alcohol limit for drivers should be reduced.

“We would not wish to leave Britain and only Malta in Western Europe with a higher limit. It is likely that Scotland and Northern Ireland will soon adopt the lower limit as well.

“Contrary to the Government’s contention that reduction of the limit “would not be value for money – or the most effective use of resources”, we believe that the evidence supports the need for reduction.

“The Government’s Response to the recommendation declares that the adoption of the lower limit would be expected to result in an annual reduction of between 20 and 188 fatalities, and between 629 and 16,900 non fatal injuries. These potential ‘benefits’ have been valued at between £57m and £899m per annum. The Response also declares that “drink driving still accounts for hundreds of deaths on our roads and thousands of serious injuries”, adding that “this is not acceptable and further progress is crucial”.

“We believe that the public interest requires that the Government adopt this measure to save lives and injuries.”

The signatories to the letter are:

Baroness Dianne Hayter, Chair All Party Group on Alcohol Misuse
Eric Appleby, Interim Chief Executive, Alcohol Concern

Professor Nicholas Barton, Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Edinburgh University
Professor Mark Bellis, Director Centre for Public Health, Liverpool John Moores University

Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive, Royal College of Nursing

Mike Clancy, President, College of Emergency Medicine

Lindsey Davies, President Faculty of Public Health, Royal College of Physicians

Robert Gifford, Executive Director, PACTS
Sir Ian Gilmore, Chairman, Alcohol Health Alliance

Professor Ray Hodgson, Research Director, Alcohol Research UK

Andrew Langford, Chief Executive, British Liver Trust

Dr Noel Olsen, Public Health Consultant
Professor Richard Parish, Chief Executive, Royal Society for Public Health

For more information contact Robert Gifford at PACTS.

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If everyone was self-regulating, we would not have a single death as a result of drink-driving nor anyone testing positive for excess alcohol levels. If society self-regulated, we would have no need of a police force, or a road safety profession, nor VOSA, Environmental Health Inspectors or Trading Standards to name but a few. Whilst most reasonable, responsible people self regulate most of their behaviour most of the time, few are perfectly law abiding and responsible all of the time and some people do not self regulate at all. So our society has accepted the need for rules and their enforcement; we tend to differ on the detail or the rules that directly affect us individually and that we find irksome. Living in a civilised society involves a measure of compromise and some personal restrictions.
Honor Byford, North Yorkshire

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I cannot see a negative to this. I've lost count of the number of times I have heard of people stopped by the police for driving in a questionable manner (not a legal term) and are found to have alcohol in their system but passed the breathalyser. We need to get the message out that any alcohol in unacceptable.
Morph (south)

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I don’t normally comment on news posts, but considering the subject and response so far, I felt I had to. While I believe educating people before they start driving is the key to reducing drink drive collisions, lowering the limit IS only a positive step forward and I fully support PACTS and the other signatories. It would provide ‘no excuses’ for people who say they are ‘confused’ about the current limit.

It is proven that any amount of alcohol affects a person’s driving and that if you drive at the current government limit you’re 8 times more likely to be involved in a fatal collision. Therefore, you are a danger to yourself and other people if you currently drink any alcohol before driving. If lives were saved through ‘self-policing and peer pressure’ then there would not be around 12,000 drink drive related casualties a year.

You only need to look at the vox pops on http://dontbethatsomeone.co.uk/ to see how little young people actually know about the dangers of drink driving.
Mike - London, founder of http://dontbethatsomeone.co.uk/

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This change to the law is potentially very dangerous.

It is currently socially unacceptable to d/d (drink and drive) so lives are being saved simply through self-policing and peer pressure. Where people are caught for d/d, there is generally little sympathy for the driver and the police are seen to be doing a good job. There is no-one I know that doubts d/d above the current level is dangerous.

The proposed lower level risks damaging the results achieved so far because people will be prosecuted despite clearly not being a danger to themselves or anyone else.

Declaration of interests: I will remain unaffected as I do not drink even to the new lower level, whether driving or not, although friends may drive occasionally at levels close to the proposed new lower level.
Dave Finney - Slough

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