North Report is ‘major milestone’: Road Safety GB

10.32 | 16 June 2010 | | 5 comments

Road Safety GB has hailed the publication of the North Report on drug and drink driving as a major milestone in the war on road casualties and urges the government to implement the life saving recommendations fully and speedily.

Sir Peter North recommends that the government should lower the legal drink-drive limit from the current 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg.

He also recommends that the 12-month driving ban – automatic for those who exceed the current limit – should be maintained for the new 50mg limit.

Sir Peter also calls for police to be given greater powers to check for drink-drivers and for drink-drive procedures to be streamlined, to increase police time on the roads.

Alan Kennedy, chair of Road Safety GB, has given the association’s full support for the proposed measures.

He said:  “We welcome particularly the proposal to reduce the legal drink-drive limit.

“Like many others we feel that to consume any alcohol prior to driving is irresponsible. We realise, however, that for physiological reasons a zero level is impractical.

“The proposed level of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood is probably the right level for practical roadside detection and, as well as preventing hundreds of deaths and serious injuries, will bring the UK into line with the rest of Europe.”

The report was sent to Philip Hammond, transport secretary, last month but only published today.

Mr Hammond said: "Sir Peter’s report is a serious piece of work that covers a wide range of issues.

"We will need to carefully consider these with other government departments. In doing so it is important that we fully investigate the economic and public service resource impact of any suggested changes to the law, taking account of the current financial and economic situation.

"Our priority will be to tackle drink and drug-driving in the most effective way possible to protect law-abiding road users. We will respond to Sir Peter in due course."

Making 51 recommendations in all, Sir Peter said that police procedures enforcing current drug-driving laws should be improved, making it more straightforward for police to identify and prosecute drug-drivers by allowing nurses, as well as doctors, to authorise blood tests of suspects.

Drawing on comprehensive new research commissioned from the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice), Sir Peter said that as many as 168 lives – approximately 7% of current road deaths in Britain – could be saved in the first year of a reduced limit, rising to as many as 303 lives saved by the sixth year following any change in the law.

His review identified that many people do not know how much they can drink and stay within the legal limit, old or new, and that differences in people’s response to alcohol made setting drink ‘quotas’ a difficult, and possibly risky, strategy.

Sir Peter said: "Research conclusively shows the much higher risk posed by drink-driving. With a blood alcohol level between my proposed new limit of 50mg/100ml and the current 80mg/100ml limit, a driver has a six times greater risk of road death than a non-drinking driver.

"Having considered the issues carefully and considered views from all quarters, I not only believe that it is right to reduce the limit, but that the public is ready for a lower limit. It is time to give them what they want."

Click here to download a copy of the North Review report.


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    I cannot believe that someone like Brian Livings is actually on a Road Safety website, with such ignorant and insulting views as his. Has he ever really listened to anyone who has been affected by a selfish drunk driver? Perhaps if he had, he would realise how much devastation someone like him can cause by following his social life in such a selfish way.

    Carole, Leeds
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    Well that just about sums it up for me regarding people’s attitudes to drink driving. It seems that if you are a retired Traffic Officer living in the Country it’s ok to drink and drive!! Being over 60 means that you can’t possibly be over the limit and that your reactions are spot on with a little ‘booze’in your system. Come on Mr Livings get real this isn’t the 1980’s.

    Neill Townsend (Southwest)
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    I can see no earthly reason why it should be acceptable for anyone to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking any alcohol at all. The idea that social interaction is impossible without the aid of alcohol speaks volumes about the individual. If it is indeed impossible what is wrong with getting a taxi home?

    Steve, Rotherham
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    If you’re going to the pub either get a taxi or drive and have non alcoholic drinks. Sugggesting that it’s fine to have a couple of pints and then drive because you’re doing it socially and are a more experienced driver is ridiculous and only serves to demonstrate that drink driving is seen as acceptable in certain circles which sends the wrong message to younger drivers. Driving and drinking do not mix. End of.

    Dave, Leeds
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    Once again I note that the minority of drivers over 60 yrs are to be penalised for the majority of worst drink drive offenders ( 16-30 group) Most drivers in the senior citizen age group of which I am one, drive once or twice a week to our nearest pub, where we make social contact and enjoy a couple of pints in that social activity. Due to the closure of so many rural pubs to maintain this social contact within a community means having to travel greater distances to enjoy a pint and a chat. Lowering the current limit will, without any doubt mean the closure of many more rural pubs leading to a greater lack of community social cohesion as well as putting those who work in the pub trade out of work. Rather than punishing the majority perhaps I would suggest that greater enforcement is given to those who drive well above the present prescribed limit, most of which, as your surveys demonstates are the younger drivers and who are well above the current prescibed limit. I would add that I am a former Traffic police officer (Metropolitan) and now live in a rural community where the pub is an important part of our social life.

    Brian Livings
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