But campaigners say time is right to toughen laws
22 January 2010

The number of drink-drivers caught over Christmas fell 16.5 per cent.

However safety campaigners, who want stricter limits and in-car technologies to tackle the problem, say progress on cutting rates is still too slow.

“We need a review of our drink-drive laws,” said the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). “Police arrested 7638 drunk-drivers in December – a stubborn minority is still putting themselves and the rest of us at risk.”

Police breathalysed 223,423 drivers during the month-long blitz – up 22 per cent on the previous year. Around 3 per cent were over the limit.

The government is reviewing the current drink-driving and drug-driving laws. RoSPA is calling for the legal limit to fall from 80mg to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This would bring the UK in line with the rest of Europe.

“This would save around 65 lives and 230 serious injuries on Britain’s roads each year,” said RoSPA. “At blood alcohol levels between 50mg and 80mg, you are more than two times more likely to have an accident.”

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), which advises the EC, says alcohol is the second largest cause of road deaths, responsible for 5-30 per cent of fatal accidents. It is lobbying for the EC to make it compulsory for car companies to install technologies that disable vehicles if the drivers is over the limit.

The industry’s safety companies already have systems on trials in commercial vehicles around Europe. Infrared analysis of your breath, pupil scanning and even skin-based detection technologies are all developing fast, said the ETSC.

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“They should be retro-fitted to convicted drink-drivers’ vehicles and made compulsory for all commercial drivers," said a spokesperson. "We’re recommending that in the medium-term they’re standard on all new cars."

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