As Christmas approaches the Government, police forces and other road safety organisations are busy launching their annual drink-driving campaigns. RoSPA’s position is very simple – the only safe limit is zero, and all drivers should refrain from drinking alcohol if they are driving.
However, this very clear and straightforward advice is somewhat complicated when you look at the legislative situation across the countries of the United Kingdom.
The maximum blood alcohol limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (80mg/100ml). In Scotland, it was lowered to 50mg/100ml blood on December 5, 2015, which RoSPA campaigned for.
The 80mg/100ml limit was based on evidence from the 1960s that the likelihood of a road accident rises sharply at and above that level. But later evidence also showed that most drivers are impaired and their risk increases below this limit.
Drivers with a blood alcohol level of between 50mg and 80mg are 2–2.5 times more likely to be involved in an accident than drivers with no alcohol, and up to 6 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.
We support this year’s DfT THINK! Christmas drink-drive campaign, which is targeting young men aged 17-34 with the message that “a second drink could double your chance of being in a fatal collision”, challenging their rule of thumb that it’s ok to have “a couple” of drinks before driving.
RoSPA recognises that a legally enforceable zero limit is impractical, but is nevertheless disappointed that Andrew Jones, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Department for Transport, confirmed in a written response to Jim Shannon MP “that a lower 50mg/100ml limit is not planned for England and Wales”. By legislating for a lower limit the Government would set a clear message that a second drink is simply not acceptable, legally or socially.
There were 1,170 drink drive casualties in 2015.
Nick Lloyd, road safety manager
Posted: 12/2/2016 1:47:03 PM