GEM highlights dangers posed by ‘minimally impaired’ drivers

12.00 | 1 May 2014 | | 2 comments

GEM Motoring Assist is calling on the Government to take immediate action to reduce the drink drive limit in response to a new study which suggests that “drivers pose increased risks long before they become legally intoxicated”.

The study GEM refers to looks at crash data from the USA and shows that “minimally impaired drivers are more often to blame for fatal road collisions than the sober drivers they collide with”.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal group’s Injury Prevention, examined nearly 600,000 fatal collisions between 1994 and 2011. It used the official US Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), which reports on blood alcohol content in increments of 0.01%.

David Williams, GEM chief executive, said: “Drivers pose increased risks long before they become legally intoxicated.

“The research clearly shows that drivers with a blood alcohol level of just 10mg per 100ml of blood – significantly below the current UK legal limit of 80mg – are 46% more likely to be officially and solely blamed by accident investigators than are the sober drivers they collide with.

“Crucially, the authors also found no ‘threshold effect’, or sudden transition from blameless to blamed at the legal limit for drink driving. Instead, blame rises steadily and smoothly from 10mg to 240mg.

“Researchers found no safe combination of drinking and driving, and no point at which it could be deemed harmless to drink alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car.

“The data supports the long-running call for reducing the UK legal limit from 80mg to 50mg; and in fact provides good reason for reducing it even further.”


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    As I have said before, this government, just like previous ones, is by its inaction causing the problem, the deaths and suffering caused by drunk driving, by not making it a zero tolerance one. If we had a referendum on this issue the majority of sound minded people would want safer roads for their kith and kin and would vote for no tolerance.

    bob craven Lancs
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    I would expect most road safety professionals to support a reduction in the drink drive limit for all the reasons highlighted in this article. There will be a need for some significant resources put into education, targeted publicity and stringent enforcement required if this ever materialises. Behavioural surveys suggest that there is still a significant proportion of motorists who don’t think it unacceptable or dangerous to drive after drinking a couple of pints or if they are unsure if they are over the limit or not. Many claim to know motorists who do take these risks. The problem is, road safety education and publicity funding is already at an all time low and with fewer traffic patrols available, there aren’t the resources to tackle those who flout the existing limit. The government needs to wake up to this and a number of other road safety issues where the evidence is quite clear in support of change but politics gets in the way.

    Robert Dorset
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