Drink-drive limit

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One of the reasons given for opposing the pending 50mg drink-drive limit is that not enough deaths and serious injuries would be averted to justify the reduction.

In that case, why don’t the concerned parties advocate an extension of the lower limit to the rest of the United Kingdom? Then, there would be even more lives saved and incapacitating injuries avoided; England alone, has far more drivers than 
Scotland. In short, we should not be Scotland-centric about bringing down casualty figures even further on our roads.

The authorities can never exactly predict the fall in deaths and injuries that would result from a lower limit of 50mg, although in 2000, the then UK government estimated that “reducing the limit to 50mg could save 50 lives and prevent 250 serious injuries nationwide.” (That was then, and we have even more cars on the roads now.)

What we do know, however, from physiologists, is that alcohol impairment can kick in at relatively low levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC). According to the US National Alcoholism and Drug Dependence Council “at the 0.02 BAC level a driver can begin to experience some loss of judgement, relaxation and altered mood which results in a decline in visual function, ability to perform two tasks at the same time as well as ability to track a moving object”.

We are talking about impairment as it applies to someone in charge of a potentially lethal machine.

Most countries in Europe, with the exception of the UK and Malta, implement a 50mg limit, based on research into the effects of alcohol on the brain at low levels of consumption (obviously, individuals vary but you cannot have different statutory limits for each driver).

We only have one life, so why needlessly risk paralysing people or shortening their lives solely for the sake of a drink? It’s all very simple really: having an alcoholic drink will never, ever, make you a better driver.

Stephen McBride