21 March 2011
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has welcomed a raft of new measures to tackle drink and drug driving but would like to see further steps to save even more of the lives lost due to drink drivers.
Streamlined procedures and the closure of loopholes to make it easier to conduct breath tests at the roadside and in police stations, improved testing equipment and more robust drink-drive rehabilitation schemes are among the measures announced today by Transport Secretary Philip Hammond, and welcomed by RoSPA.
But, in addition to these, the safety charity would like to see a reduced legal alcohol limit to further deter people from drink driving. For many years, RoSPA has called for the legal limit to be reduced from the current 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This move was also recommended by last year’s North Report on Drink and Drug Driving, which followed an independent review of the law.
On drug driving, in addition to the approval of preliminary drug-testing equipment and the introduction of streamlined procedures, the Government will also examine the case for a new specific drug-driving offence - alongside the existing one - which would remove the need for the police to prove impairment on a case-by-case basis where a specified drug has been detected.
All the measures have been set out in the Government’s response to the North Report.
Duncan Vernon, road safety manager at RoSPA, said: “RoSPA welcomes the announcement of new measures to crack down on drink and drug driving. We have long called for it to be easier for the police to catch those driving above the legal alcohol limit or under the influence of drugs, and the new testing equipment and improved procedures will go a long way towards this. As well as enabling offenders to be caught, we hope these measures will also deter people from the anti-social and dangerous practices of drink and drug driving.
“We would still like to see a lower drink-drive limit, as recommended by the North Report. Long-standing research has estimated that lowering the limit to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood would save 65 lives a year on Great Britain’s roads and more recent research has suggested that the casualty savings could be even greater - perhaps as many as 168 fewer deaths in the first year following the change. Lowering the limit would back up road safety messages about how and why driving under the influence of alcohol is dangerous and would help to encourage people not to drink any alcohol before driving.”
In 2009, 380 people were killed and a further 11,610 were injured in drink-drive accidents on Great Britain’s roads. There were 53 fatalities and 1,007 other casualties in reported road accidents in which an impairment due to illicit or medicinal drugs was recorded among the contributory factors, although the true casualty figures for this are likely to have been higher.