England and Wales 'lagging' on drink drive limit 50 years on


On the fiftieth anniversary of the drink-drive law and the roadside breath test, the RAC has called on ministers to cut the blood-alcohol limit in England and Wales, a demand it says is backed by ‘overwhelming’ opinion among motorists.

However, the AA Charitable Trust said last month that drivers remain ‘addicted’ to using mobile phones while driving, which it sees as a danger on the same scale.

The RAC said England and Wales, where the limit remains 80mg (milligrams) of alcohol per 100ml of blood, are lagging behind Scotland and Northern Ireland and also ‘out of kilter’’ with the rest of Europe.

Scotland cut the limit to 50mg in December 2014 and Northern Ireland is following suit. 

The RAC said that while reported road casualty data from Transport Scotland shows accidents involving alcohol were actually higher in 2015 than 2014, new statistics due to published later this month ‘should enable a more accurate analysis of the impact of the legal limit reduction’.

Road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: ‘Fifty years after the drink-drive limit became law, it is time for the Government to move with the times and fall in line with the large sway of other countries which enforce a 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood limit with the aim of cutting the number of accidents that occur due to drivers being under the influence of alcohol.’

The RAC said research for its 2017 Report on Motoring found that 59% supported a reduction in England and Wales. Of those, 38% said they would like to see the limit reduced to 50mg across the whole of the UK while 21% would prefer a cut to 20mg.

It pointed to Government statistics for Britain showing been little change in the number of casualties from reported road accidents between 2012 and 2016 where one of the drivers or riders was impaired by alcohol. The Department for Transport said that since 1979, when official statistics first began, the number of drink drive deaths per year has ‘plummeted’ from 1,640 to 200 in 2015.

It its launching a new THINK! drink-drive campaign at the end of November.

Roads minister Jesse Norman said: ‘I am proud of the work this department has done to reduce the number of deaths from drink driving over the last 50 years.

'There is still much further to go, but we are making good progress. Our THINK! campaigns should help to reduce the number of drink drive incidents even further.'

The AA Charitable Trust says drivers are twice as likely to crash text driving as drink driving.

Its director, AA president Edmund King, said last month: ‘It took time to change mainstream attitudes to drink-driving so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised that we still have some way to go to convince drivers to hang up their phones in the car.’

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