Calls made for zero tolerance on drink-driving

European Transport Safety Council has called for a package of measures to be implemented as alcohol-related road deaths increase

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Calls are being made for a zero-tolerance policy towards drink-driving as a recent study confirmed that alcohol-related deaths are on the rise in the UK.

A new study has found that the UK, with the exception of Scotland, has the highest drink-driving limit in the entire EU and one of the highest limits in the world.

The European Transport Safety Council reported that the only other country with an alcohol limit as high as the UK’s was Malta – until it brought in stricter policies last year.

The number of drink-related fatalities in the UK had increased, according to the study, up 4% from the 240 in 2010 to an estimated 250 during 2017.

The UK’s dubious drink-driving honour

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: “This report lays bare the UK’s failure to tackle the menace of drink-driving compared to our EU counterparts. With England and Wales having the dubious honour of the highest drink-drive limit in Europe and more people dying on our roads due to drink-driving, the time for action is now.

“Our current drink-driving limit gives a false impression that it is acceptable to mix alcohol and driving – which couldn’t be further from the truth. Decisive action is needed to end this blight on our roads and prevent the needless loss of life.

“A zero-tolerance drink drive limit is a proven effective solution, as this report shows, and we call on the Government to implement this urgently, making clear to drivers that not a drop of alcohol is safe.”

Scotland sets the example

The current alcohol to blood limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland stands at 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood – a level that has stayed the same for more than 50 years.

Scotland lowered its limit to 50mg five years ago, which is the same as most countries across the EU and the rest of the world.

A study of 1,000 people in Scotland by breathalyser manufacturer AlcoSense found that 53% of motorists have now reduced the amount of alcohol they drink, when they know they are driving either later the same day or the following morning.

The research also revealed that two thirds of Scottish motorists would not now drive even after one alcoholic drink  – whereas prior to the law change they would have driven after one or two drinks. 

The UK was one of just six countries to record a rise in drink-driving-related deaths, alongside Austria, Estonia, Hungary, Sweden and Slovakia.

The small rise in the deaths in the UK in 2017 does go against a steady decline in numbers over the previous four decades.

Stuart Masson
Stuart Masson
Stuart is the Editorial Director of our suite of sites: The Car Expert, The Van Expert and The Truck Expert. Originally from Australia, Stuart has had a passion for cars and the automotive industry for over thirty years. He spent a decade in automotive retail, and now works tirelessly to help car buyers by providing independent and impartial advice.

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