Could lowering the limit of the legal blood alcohol limit have an effect on the number of alcohol related fatalities and casualties in England and Wales? We spoke to Mark Rigby from convicted driver insurance experts, Insurance Revolution, about what further measures could be introduced to make Britain’s roads safer.
According to Rigby, drink-driving laws are confusing motorists. “We have had a lot of people approach us who have been convicted of drink driving who genuinely had no idea they were over the limit.”
Currently, there is no basic recommendation on how much alcohol you can drink because of the different variables that can influence the way your body handles alcohol – this includes your gender, weight, health and fitness.
However, if you’re found to be driving with a more than 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, then you face arrest.
Rigby concludes that the laws need to be more straightforward. “Personally, I would prefer a complete ban on drinking before driving – it cuts out any grey area.”
Whilst drink-driving rates in the UK have decreased significantly in the past half-century, it still accounts as a major cause for fatal road traffic accidents.
According to data released by the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) who have analysed data from 700,000 accidents from 2005 – 2009, impairment and distraction accounts for nearly 20% of all fatal accidents. Alcohol is a factor for nearly 10% of fatalities under this category.
And according to government report, alcohol was to blame for 14% of all deaths in reported road traffic accidents in 2013.
The laws surrounding alcohol and driving have existed since the Criminal Justice Act of 1925. However, it wasn’t until 1967 that the maximum legal drink drive limit was introduced by way of the Road Safety Act.
This set the first maximum legal blood alcohol limit in the UK. The limit was set at a maximum BAC (blood alcohol concentration) of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. It was made an offence to drive, attempt to drive or be in charge of a motor vehicle with a BAC that exceeded this new legal limit.
This was the same year the breathalyser was introduced by royal assent. However, it wasn’t until the following year when the roadside breathalyser was type approved by the Home Office. That year, there were 1,152 fewer recorded deaths and 11,177 fewer serious injuries than in the previous year.
The laws remained the same in Scotland until December 2014 where the limit was decreased to 50mg of alcohol to every 100ml of alcohol. This brings their laws in line with most of Europe.
According to a news report in December 2015, the number of drink driving offences in Scotland had fallen by 12.5% on the previous year.
Rigby supports this lowering of the limit. “Scotland’s move makes a lot of sense – and there’s evidence to support lowering the limit has an effect. However, with all our clients, we just advise them to either leave the car at home or abstain from alcohol completely if they have to drive.”