Renewed drive-drive limit call

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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has made renewed calls for the drink-drive limit to be lowered as latest figures show a rise in the number of people killed in alcohol-related accidents.

Provisional estimates for 2012, released by the Department for Transport (DfT), show there were 290 people killed in drink-drive accidents in Great Britain – a rise of around a quarter compared to the previous year.

As a proportion of all reported road fatalities, the number of drink-drive deaths was 17 per cent in 2012, compared to 12 per cent in 2011.

RoSPA is calling on the Government in Westminster to lower the drink-drive limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100 ml to 50 mg per 100 ml blood and follow the lead of ministers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, who have already agreed to the change the law.

As the UK’s leading accident prevention charity, RoSPA also believes that the police should have increased powers to require a breath test without needing any other reason. Under the current system, the police can stop any driver for any reason, but they cannot require a breath test without a suspicion that the driver has consumed alcohol, or has committed a traffic offence or been involved in an accident.

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety, said: “”The increase in drink-drive deaths in 2012 is very disturbing. The figures show that the problem of drinking and driving has not been solved, with tens of thousands of people being convicted of drink driving, hundreds losing their lives and thousands being injured every year. Often it is an innocent person who suffers, not just the driver who was over the drink-drive limit.

“”A lower drink-drive limit would save many lives each year, while effective enforcement of the drink drive law is essential, and should be high profile and highly visible in order to enhance its effect as a deterrent. Drivers should realise that if they choose to drink and drive there is a strong chance that they will be detected and prosecuted and that the penalties will be severe.”

The figures are provisional and the final ones may be different. The provisional figure for 2011 was 280 drink-drive deaths, but the final figure was 230. So, it is possible that the actual figure for 2012 will be lower than the 290 deaths reported today.

“But, even if the final figures are lower than the provisional ones, continued education and enforcement campaigns are needed to keep pressing home the Don’t Drink and Drive message.”

Latest provisional figures for 2012 also showed a five per cent decrease in seriously injured drink-drive casualties to around 1,200, which accounts for five per cent of all seriously injured road casualties. The report also suggested that the highest risk of death from driving whilst over the drink-drive limit was to the driver.

The North Review of Drink and Drug Driving Law, in 2010, recommended that the limit be lowered and concluded that the change “would undoubtedly save a significant number of lives”. It estimated that in the first year after implementation, between 43 and 168 lives could be saved, along with a larger number of those seriously injured. The impact of any lowering in the blood alcohol limit is then predicted to increase to save up to 303 lives a year by the sixth year.