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Brake calls for zero tolerance limit

The UK independent road safety charity, Brake, has welcomed police efforts to catch drunk and drug drivers over the Christmas period, but renewed its calls for action from the government and public to stamp out the problem. Statistics released by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) reveal that 7,123 drivers were caught driving over the limit during the month-long December enforcement campaign across England and Wales; approximately the same as the number as last year. However, significantly more drivers were breath tested than in 2011: 175,000, compared to 157,000 last year, and Brake has welcomed this increased activities as an important deterrent to law-breaking. A major focus of the 2012 campaign was tackling drink driving among young drivers, who are more likely to fail a breath test: 5.27% of under-25s stopped by police failed a test during the campaign, compared to 3.39% of drivers age 25+. During the campaign there were also 360 Field Impairment Tests for drug driving, with 21% of these resulting in arrest.

In 2011, one in seven road deaths in the UK involved drivers over the current 80mg limit, which resulted in 280 deaths and 1,290 serious injuries. A further estimated 65 deaths per year are caused by drivers who are under the drink-drive limit, but who have a significant amount of alcohol in their blood over 50mg. Brake is calling on the Government for a zero tolerance limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of breath, which allows for naturally occurring alcohol in the body, and is the limit set by numerous other countries including Sweden, Poland and Greece. The EU recommends a limit of no more than 50mg, and within Europe only Malta shares the UK’s limit of 80mg alcohol. Governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland have announced their intentions to reduce drink drive limits to 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood. In Northern Ireland, newly qualified drivers and commercial drivers will have a zero tolerance limit of 20mg.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said, “It’s shocking that so many drivers are willing to put themselves and others in such great danger by drinking and driving over the festive period; many of them young and inexperienced. The police do an incredible job taking these risky drivers off our roads and deterring would-be offenders from taking chances with people’s lives. This work results in fewer people needlessly losing lives or suffering appalling injuries, and fewer families dealing with the terrible aftermath of a crash. But this work is in jeopardy, and it’s desperately important the government acts now to stem potentially catastrophic cut-backs in roads policing, as well as adopting a zero tolerance drink drive limit. We need to send a clear message that it should be ‘none for the road’, and drink driving will not be tolerated.”

January 21, 2013

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