Stakeholders unite in call for lower drink drive limit

13.27 | 13 February 2020 | | 2 comments

Image: IAM RoadSmart

Road safety stakeholders have renewed calls for a lower drink drive limit in England and Wales – after the number of people killed or injured in drink drive related collisions rose in 2018.

Provisional estimates for Great Britain, published by the DfT on 12 February, show 8,700 people were either killed or injured in drink drive related collisions last year – a year-on-year rise of 1%.

There was also a 4% rise in the number of crashes involving a drink driver – up to 5,900.

However, the number of drink-drive related deaths fell slightly, with the DfT’s central estimate down from 250 to 240.

Reaction from stakeholders has been one of disappointment, with IAM RoadSmart, Brake and Alcosense all taking aim at the drink drive limit in England and Wales – which at 0.8mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, is the highest in Europe.

Brake says the current limit gives a ‘false impression’ that it is acceptable to mix alcohol and driving.

Josh Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “With thousands of people still being killed and injured at the hands of drink-drivers every year, and little sign of this situation improving, decisive action needs to be taken. 

“We’re calling on the Government to lower the limit and implement an effective zero tolerance on drink-driving, making clear to drivers that when you’re behind the wheel, not a drop of alcohol is safe.”

‘No one simple answer’ – IAM RoadSmart
IAM RoadSmart says a ‘hardcore’ of persistent drink-drivers are ‘still not getting the message’ – and is calling for the Government to introduce a ‘smarter’ package of measures to tackle the issue.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “There is no one simple answer to reducing these figures.

“IAM RoadSmart believes we now need a much smarter package of measures from the Government including a lower drink-drive limit to reinforce good behaviour, fast-track of evidential roadside testing machines to release police resources and tailored approaches to help drivers with alcohol problems. 

“Rehabilitation courses work and we think all those convicted of drink-driving should be sent on one automatically rather than having to opt in. 

“More use of alcohol interlocks and extra penalties such as vehicle forfeiture, as used in Scotland, could all be part of a more joined-up approach to the problem.”

Drink drive limit at ‘dangerously high level’ – Alcosense
Breathalyser firm Alcosense is urging the Government to stop ‘ignoring robust scientific evidence’.

Hunter Abbott, AlcoSense, said: “Casualties will not reduce until better enforcement is in place, combined with stricter limits and drink driving awareness campaigns.

“England and Wales have the highest drink drive limit in the developed world, far above the ‘point of intoxication’ when the cognitive effects of alcohol on a person are measurable. 

“At the English/Welsh limit, despite not contravening the law, research shows you are 13 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than when sober. 

“The Home Office should stop ignoring robust scientific evidence and the advice of road safety experts – the drink drive limit should be reduced from its current dangerously high level.”



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    It didn’t work in Scotland, what evidence is there that it would make any positive difference to road casualty numbers in England or Wales?

    And have we ever seen evidence anyway, of a causal relationship between a driver’s blood-alcohol level and their likelihood of being involved in a collision? I don’t recall ever seeing any studies that compared the blood-alcohol levels of the driving population as a whole, with those for whom it could be shown that it was a contributory factor (rather than just a coincidental fact) in a collision.

    I do remember though, a Christmas campaign of a few years ago, which showed that there was a higher proportion of randomly stopped drivers who were above the alcohol limit than of drivers who had been involved in an incident!

    Charles, Wells
    Agree (7) | Disagree (1)

    IAM Roadsmart says there is ‘No one simple answer’ Yes there is NIL BY MOUTH. Anyone found with any alcohol on a breath test and found to be above a minimum tolerance accepted due to medication should be immediately banned from driving. Taken off the road and the car towed away or arrangements made for its removal off the road. If any amount of drugs is apparent in tests then that driver would be stopped from driving immediately. Alcohol, no matter how much, is a such a drug that alters one’s cognitive ability and behaviour and if we take a decision that enough death is enough and that even one death will be stopped then we must do this for the sake of others. Its a political question and one that should have only one answer.

    Michelle Worthington, Manchester
    Agree (6) | Disagree (11)

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