Saving Lives by Lowering the Legal Drink-Drive Limit

Saving Lives by Lowering the Legal Drink-Drive Limit

PACTS and the RAC Foundation today (16 December) published a report from Professor Richard Allsop, Saving Lives by Lowering the Legal Drink-Drive Limit (available here). Professor Allsop, a former PACTS Director and now Special Adviser to PACTS, estimates that 25 deaths and 95 serious injury casualties would be avoided each year if the limit in England and Wales was reduce to that which now applies in Scotland.

Professor Richard Allsop said:

“When we set the limit of 80mg/100ml in 1967 the evidence we had was that the risk of collision when driving at 80mg was about double the risk without drinking.   We now know that the risk of a fatal collision at 50mg is around 5 times the risk without drinking.   The existing law protects other road users from those who might otherwise drive at more than 80mg but does nothing to protect against those driving after lower levels of drinking, who are involved in collisions in which around 60 people were killed each year from 2010 to 2013.   Experience across Europe is that lowering the limit to 50mg is practicable, and my cautious estimate is that doing so in England and Wales, taken with the 50mg limit already in place in Scotland, could be saving save at least about 25 of those 60 lives.” 

David Davies, executive director of PACTS, commented:

“A driver with 80mg blood alcohol concentration is 12 times more likely to be killed in a collision than a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of zero – but may still be within the law in England and Wales. The last independent inquiry into the drink-drive limit, conducted by Sir Peter North, recommended a reduction to 50mg.

“Since that time – 2010 – road casualties, including drink-related casualties, have decreased very little, if at all. There is a good case for allowing Parliament to examine the issue again to see if further progress can be.”

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, added:

“Policy in this area hasn’t moved for half a century but in the face of this evidence it increasingly falls on opponents of a limit reduction to defend the status quo, rather than asking those who support a cut to keep making their case.”

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