LIMIT: Law should be changed, claim RoSPA
Lowering the drink-drive limit should be high on the government agenda, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) have insisted.
Latest figures show a 25% rise in the number of people killed in alcohol-related accidents, to 290 deaths in 2012.
The number means drink-drive deaths counted for 17% of all reported road fatalities last year, compared to 12% in 2011.
RoSPA are calling on the government to lower the drink-drive limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml to 50mg per 100ml blood, following the lead of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
They also believe police should have increased powers to require a breath test without needing any other reason.
Police currently cannot require a breathtest without suspecting the driver has consumed alcohol, or has committed a traffic offence or been involved in an accident.
Kevin Clinton, Head of Road Safety at RoSPA, 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.
“Today’s 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.”
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.