The Scottish Government’s claim that that the drink drive message has “hit home” following the introduction of a new lower drink drive limit has been challenged by an independent consultant.
While the Scottish Government and Police Scotland hailed a 19% reduction in the number of drivers caught over the drink drive limit over the festive period, Dr Rob Tunbridge points out that this was almost entirely attributed to a reduction in the number of tests administered.
During the 2014 festive drink drive campaign, Police Scotland tested 17,504 drivers, 351 (2%) of whom failed. The comparable figures for 2013 were 20,646 and 434 (2.1%) respectively.
Justice Michael Matheson, secretary for justice, described the figures as “testament to the immediate effect that the new lower limit has helped to make our roads safer”.
However, Dr Rob Tunbridge (left) an independent consultant who specialises in driver impairment due to alcohol, drugs or fatigue, described the reporting of the figures as “disingenuous at best”.
Dr Tunbridge* said: “The campaign does not appear to be the great success the press notices suggest.
“The normal measure of success is the percentage of those who test positive. This was virtually unchanged at 2% compared to 2.1% last year.
“The 19% reduction results from a smaller number of tests. Fewer drivers tested = less drink drivers!
“At 20, the number of drivers detected between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol is small compared to previous roadside surveys, so a lot more research and reflection is needed, in my view.”
*Footnote: Dr Tunbridge is a member of the International Council on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety and an assistant editor of the international journal ‘Addiction’. He is also member of PACTS, the London Toxicology Group and the UK Workplace Drug Testing Forum. Previously he was head of impairment studies at the Transport Research Laboratory and research programme manager in the Road Safety Division at the DfT.