Leader: Drink driving statistics are sobering reading

The number caught drink driving is rising.
The number caught drink driving is rising.
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So tight are the drink-drive limits now, it is hardly surprising that many find themselves being caught over the limit. In fact, more than nine per cent of those caught drink-driving in Police Scotland’s four-week enforcement campaign over the festive period tested between the old and new limits – up from four per cent the previous year.

Of the almost 19,000 drivers stopped during the 2016/17 festive period campaign, a total of 625 – or 1 in 30 – were over the limit. Some 46 were caught in the morning between 6am and 10am having been drinking the night before, up from 13 in 2015/16. The drink-drive limit was reduced from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood in 2014, making Scotland’s laws the strictest in the UK.

But the most depressing statistic is that, despite year after year of warnings and advertising campaigns more than 600 drivers were still found to be over the limit. This should drive home the message that the safest drink drive limit is not to drink and drive at all. It makes sense to play safe - either agreeing on an alcohol-free friend or partner to be the driver for the evening, hiring a taxi or using public transport.

The ‘safest’ option for many is to stay at home and only drink indoors. But this is an option that can also come at a cost: we tend to drink more when at home, the measures are more generous, the cost is less than at a pub – and no—one’s counting the rounds. Such advice risks being branded as a kill-joy. But on any objective examination, quite the happiest outcome of all is to avoid not only drink-drinking but also drinking to excess.

It is modest consumption, not a drinking binge, that is the guarantor of a long-term happy outcome.