UK mulls drink-drive limit cut
'Don't drink and drive' message not getting through
The government is considering cutting the UK's drink-drive limit under "mounting pressure...from road safety groups and also the British Medical Association", the Telegraph reports.
Several police forces earlier this year expressed concern that drivers, especially younger ones, simply weren't taking on board the "don't drink and drive" message. Department for Transport (DfT) stats back this up, showing that there were "1,050 17-19 year olds involved in drink drive accidents in 2005, compared to 810 a decade ago".
The powers that be hinted back in February they were mulling a cut from 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood to 50 milligrams, and roads minister Stephen Ladyman has now said the DfT would "produce proposals for consultation later in the year".
A DfT spokesman explained last night: "As part of our latest road safety review in February we said we would keep under review the case for a lower drink drive limit. The UK already has stringent penalties for drink driving, and better enforcement than many countries, but that doesn't mean we can't do better.
"We have said many times that we plan to explore ways of making drink driving enforcement easier for police. This will take the form of a consultation later in the year - and until that is complete it is impossible to say what measures may or may not be taken forward." ®
Reducing it to 0.5 could actually do some good
Although it's got nothing to do with the statistics presented here. (With thanks to the poster who did all the research on DVLA stats - as long as there are drunk drivers, there is a problem.)
The current limit allows you to have a pint (or fruit-based drink for the ladies) and still drive, or 2 pints at lunchtime and drive home in the evening. The trouble with that is that it clearly *doesn't* give out a message that it's not OK to drink and drive, because the current limit clearly implies that *is*!
Reducing the limit to 40-50mg removes the implied tolerance of "it's OK to have 1 drink and drive" while allowing tolerance for medicines, last night's activity or a tasty steak and ale pie.
Now if the DfT had actually spun it that way I'd have some respect for them. However as it is, we all know that what they really want is *more* convictions and thus more fines.
Well something's working...
A few things most people can agree on, I hope?
Firstly, implementing road safety laws takes intelligent litigation and practical application - so the right law, and enforce it!
Secondly, road deaths are falling. Not sure if it's the law, the enforcement, or educating the populace, but numbers for the UK:
2003 3,508 dead
2004 3,221 dead
2005 3,201 dead
Slow, but getting better.
Thirdly, there cannot be a zero percent - it's unenforceable due to mouthwash, confectionary and/or medication. 80mg/100ml still catches drinkers the morning after, but that seems like a fair trade and a safe place to put the line. Alcohol in blood is alcohol in blood.
So we have a falling death rate (please if someone has the 06 numbers add them to see if it's also on track), so is it wise to drop the level? Seems to me that the existing law works - so the focus should be less on talking numbers and more on enforcing the existing law!
Finally, I just want to add some talking points if nooneminds.
* according to Bupa.co.uk: "The UK driving limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - which is roughly equivalent to two pints of regular strength lager." Yet in Ireland, with the same 80mg limit, we're told that one pint will put you over the safe limit. Given our taxataion means most beers stop at 4.3% as a higher level puts more VAT on, how come it's considered "safe" at two pints in the UK?
* Another Irish question! Something not mentioned here that surprises me is rural communties. Whiel most urban communities accept the law, rurual communities, in particlar the necessary farming regions, have very disperesed populations, with the pub being the remaining social point of contact for them. While to me it seems that if they drink, they should organise a minibus home for everyone or the like, there was uproar here during the past year as stringent enforcement was claimed to be robbing rural dwellers of their social life. Be wary, as you will no dount hear the same argument in the UK! I'm sympathetic, but since it's a balance of safety versus individualism, some small sacrifices must be made, and it's unfortunate that it affects soem regions more. Perhaps sub the publicans the price of a minibus if needs be!
* ""You're spoiling it for the majority" will not bring my four year-old niece back to life." - I think there's noone posting here who doesn't have absolutely genuine sympathy for you and yours for the loss. But for reasons outlined above, a zero percent limit may be unenforceable, unless it's a step towards outlawing alcohol. Enforcement and education may do more to save lives, which is the ultimate goal. Nonetheless, my deepest condolences.
Since the major concern here is statistics, the only solution is to put the limit UP not down. All Police forces look good, Government looks good, more money for everybody, I get to have a couple of pints after work without feeling guilty. Problem solved.