The Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) has joined a wide range other groups calling for MPs to reduce the UK’s high drink driving limit. There is also strong public support for lowering the limit, with the British Social Attitude Survey recently finding that three quarters of the public (77%) support lowering the drink driving limit. Lowering our drink drive limit to 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood could reduce drink driving deaths by at least 10%.
England and Wales currently have one of the highest drink drive limits in the world. Set at 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood since 1965, it is greater than the rest of Europe (with the exception only of Malta), as well as Commonwealth countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Scotland lowered its limit to 50mg in December 2014, and police figures showed a 12.5% decrease in drink-drive offences in the first nine months. Northern Ireland is set to lower its drink driving limit before the end of 2016.
Although the Government states that drink driving ‘remains a priority’, there has been no reduction in the number of drink driving deaths since 2010. Every year, drink driving causes 240 deaths and more than 8,000 casualties in the UK. This costs £800 million a year. 60% of those who are killed or injured are people other than the driver, such as passengers, pedestrians and cyclists.
A two-minute animation produced by the Institute of Alcohol Studies to support the campaign outlines the key arguments.
Shirley Cramer CBE, Chief Executive of RSPH, said: “Lowering the drink drive limit is a no-brainer from a road safety perspective, with RSPH’s own research having found that two thirds of drivers who admit drink driving saying they would not do so if this were to happen . England and Wales have been out of step with international best practice on this issue for some time – it’s high time we caught up. From a public health perspective, lowering the limit may also have a positive effect on reducing alcohol consumption levels overall.”
Katherine Brown, Director of the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said: “Recent decades have seen great improvements in road safety, but progress on drink driving has ground to a halt. With hundreds of lives lost each year, we can’t afford to let England and Wales fall behind our neighbours in road safety standards.
“It’s time the Government looked at the evidence and what other countries are doing to save lives and make roads safer. We need to make drink driving a thing of the past, and to do this we need a lower drink drive limit.”