With a new study finding the reduction in Scotland’s drink-driving limit has had little effect on the number of people killed and injured in drink-drive collisions, IAM RoadSmart believes it’s time to take a renewed focus on the hard core of drivers still willing to risk taking to the road after drinking.
These drivers are responsible for the majority of serious drink-drive crashes in the UK.
The University of Strathclyde discovered the lower limit for blood alcohol content in Scotland has not led to a statistically significant overall drop in road fatalities, especially in peak collision periods at night and weekends.
The lower drink-drive limit of 50mg in every 100ml of blood was introduced in Scotland in December 2014. The limit remains 80mg per 100ml in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Surveys of IAM RoadSmart members strongly support a reduction in limit to Scottish levels throughout the rest of the UK (reference 1).
University of Strathclyde’s Department of Economics analysed data on more than 1.1 million collisions between 2009 and 2016 which led to 1.5 million casualties and more than 14,000 fatalities. Prevailing weather conditions were also taken into account.
The study discovered in the two years leading up to the lower limit, Scotland had a monthly accident rate of 740.63 and fatality rate of 14.96.
In the two years after the new limit the rates were 704.13 for accidents and 15.25 for fatalities – consistent with accident and fatality rates in England and Wales where the limit is unchanged.
Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart’s director of policy and research, said: “We strongly support a lowering of the limit across the UK to the Scottish levels. It sends out a clear message that no level of alcohol drinking is acceptable when driving a car.
“The findings of this research also shows there has been little change in the death rate for young drivers under 25, who are seen as one of the highest risk groups for drink-driving.”
According to official figures (reference 2) car drivers between 17 and 24 account for a quarter of drivers killed in reported crashes who are over the legal alcohol limit.
Neil continued: “We urge the Government to put resources into tackling the real problem areas when it comes to drink-driving – young drivers, those with alcohol problems and those who simply don’t believe they will ever get caught. The best way to catch those who ignore the limit is through intelligence-led high profile policing so investment in roads policing must be protected. The reality of being caught must be matched in education campaign messaging.
He added: “But, it must not be forgotten that drivers who take a drink-drive rehabilitation course are less likely to reoffend. Currently a convicted drink-driver has to choose to take a course when they appear in court. At IAM RoadSmart we believe a more effective option would be to make the course compulsory and force drivers to opt out only if they choose to do so.
“In our experience drivers drink and drive for a variety of reasons often related to personal and financial problems. Treating their reliance on alcohol to ‘solve’ their problems can deliver a more permanent solution that improves road safety and deals with underlying addiction issues.
“It is heartening to see that the current generation are by and large of the mindset that drink-driving is unacceptable. However young drivers are still the most at-risk group of any people behind the wheel, and we cannot be complacent and give up the fight to prevent these unnecessary deaths and injuries from happening.”
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IAM RoadSmart has a mission to make better drivers and riders in order to improve road safety, inspire confidence and make driving and riding enjoyable. It does this through a range of courses for all road users, from online assessments through to the advanced driving and riding tests. IAM RoadSmart is the trading name of all businesses operated by the UK’s largest road safety charity, the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) and was formed in April 2016 combining the IAM, IAM Drive & Survive, PDS and IAM Driver Retraining Academy. The organisation has 92,000 members and campaigns on road safety on their behalf. At any one time there are over 7,000 drivers and riders actively engaged with IAM RoadSmart’s courses, from members of the public to company drivers, while our Driver Retraining Academy has helped 2,500 drivers to shorten their bans through education and support programmes.
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