A new survey published to mark the fifth anniversary of the drink drive limit being lowered in Scotland suggests it has led to a cultural change among the nation’s drivers.
In the survey, carried out by breathalyser firm Alcosense, two thirds of respondents said they no longer drive after one alcoholic drink – whereas prior to the law change they would have driven after one or two drinks.
More than half (53%) also claim to have reduced the amount of alcohol they drink if they are driving either later the same day or the following morning – while 31% said they do not drive to a venue if they know they will be drinking any alcohol.
The survey, which gathered the views of 1,000 Scottish drivers, also appears to reveal an appetite for lowering the limit further, with a third of respondents saying the Scottish drink drive limit should be reduced to zero.
An additional 20% said the limit should be lowered to 20mg of alcohol, to match the recommendation of the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).
Four in five (80%) of Scots said the rest of the UK should follow their country’s lead and adopt a lower limit.
Hunter Abbott, managing director of AlcoSense, said: “Based on these findings, the number of drivers on Scottish roads with alcohol in their system has significantly reduced.
“The risk of being in a fatal accident increases exponentially as blood alcohol levels rise – even if you are below the drink drive limit.
“With just 10mg of alcohol in your blood you are 37% more likely to be involved in a fatal crash. Being under the legal limit does not mean unimpaired.
“With so many Scottish motorists converting to driving with no alcohol in their system at all, the roads are safer than before the law change.”
What does the research say?
The lower drink-drive limit of 50mg per 100ml of blood was introduced in Scotland on 5 December 2014. However, the rest of the UK still maintains an 80mg per 100ml limit – the highest drink drive limit in Europe.
Early research showed there was a 20% reduction in fatal road accidents in the first year after the new limit was introduced in Scotland.
In October 2016, the Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) predicted that reducing the legal limit to 50mg/100ml in England and Wales would save at least 25 lives per year.
However, a study published in October 2018 concludes the reduction to Scotland’s drink-drive limit has had little effect on the level of deaths and accidents on the nation’s roads.
Researchers from the University of Strathclyde found that the lower limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) has not been followed by a statistically significant overall drop in road fatalities, including during peak collision periods at night-time and weekends.