If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Drink-driving - again

I see that there are more calls for the reduction of the blood-alcohol limit for driving. Story here.

Ho hum. It won't work, it's pointless, and it will penalise the very people who do abide by the current laws, while failing to do anything about those who ignore them. It will not affect the accident statistics one iota, which will only lead to calls for the limit to be even tighter, of course. I posted my views here a while ago, and they haven't changed since then.

Al Jahom has a good look at the stats here. Drink-drive accidents are marginal compared to those caused by poor driving and inattention. And, of course, the number of people killed or seriously injured in accidents continues to fall, as it has for many years. So there's not even an 'incident' or a 'trend' that suggests that something must be done.

If anyone can demonstrate that the majority of drink-driving accidents are caused by drivers in the 50-80 mg sector, I would support this proposal. But certainly anecdotal evidence suggests that the majority are caused by people who or two or three times over the present limit. If there is evidence to support this reduction, I would love to see it. But I doubt it exists.


  1. Spot on. And furthermore... The UK currently has one of the best road safety records in Europe, despite having the highest permitted level of alcohol for driving, while many of the countries with very low alcohol limits (0 or 0.2 mg/ml) have some of the worst accident statistics. And another observation - far more accidents in the UK happen to or are caused by sober drivers than drunk ones. Inescapable conclusion: it is driving SOBER that is the problem.

  2. @Nikos
    Well yes, tongue in cheek, of course, but the first part is true. Several European countries have zero limits, but they are, I think, all former communist bloc countries so they have a rather different background to driving and drinking, considered separately and together. Three countries, afaik, have limits of 0.2 mg/ml: Norway, Poland and Sweden. Their road fatality rates (1997-2007) are 5.0, 14.6 and 5.1 per 100,000 inhabitants. The European countries with limits of 0.8 mg/ml are the UK, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta and Switzerland (again, as far as I am aware) and their fatality rates are 4.8, 7.8, 10.6, 2.9 and 5.1 respectively. OK, I agree, it's a pity Ireland and Luxembourg let the side down a bit.

  3. Yup - attitude to alcohol, attitude to driving, attitude to authority and the law, even - it's not a simple matter of lower limit = safer roads. If anyone has evidence that bringing the level down from 0.8 to 0.5 in the UK would reduce the accident rate, I would be willing to support the reduction. The point is that we are already one of the safest nations in the world for road deaths. And if (according to Al Jahom above) accidents where drink is the cause are only around 5% of the total, we are at best tinkering around the edges of a problem that isn't all that bad anyway. I suspect a deeper motive. Control, again.


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