Latest casualty figures highlight need for urgent action on drink-drive limit
According to the latest figures, in 2009 there was a 5% fall in the number of deaths and more than an 8% reduction in the number of serious injuries in collisions involving illegal alcohol levels
However, PACTS has highlighted how deaths related to illegal drink driving once again represent a rising proportion of all road deaths. These deaths fell by only 2.5% between 2007 and 2008 (final figures) and only 5% between 2008 and 2009 (provisional figure), whereas the corresponding falls in all road deaths were 14% and 12%. Road deaths involving illegal alcohol levels had levelled earlier in the decade at around 18% of all road deaths. The large reduction in alcohol-related deaths in 2007 brought the percentage down to 14, but the small reductions in the last two years mean that illegal levels of alcohol featured in an estimated 17% of all road deaths in 2009.
Eleanor Besley, policy and research officer at PACTS, said: 'This rising proportion reinforces the importance of acting promptly and positively on the recommendations made in Sir Peter North’s recently published report, which recommended, among other things, a reduction in the current prescribed blood alcohol limit in section 11(2) of the Road Traffic Act 1988 of 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood to 50mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood and the equivalent amounts in breath and urine. Today’s figures highlight the significance of such a move. Sir Peter quotes estimates suggesting that his recommendation could save between at least 43 and around 168 lives in the first year and that this number could be higher in subsequent years.'
She added: 'Driving above the current BAC limit continues to contribute to nearly 400 deaths per year, yet alcohol increases risks more widely, influencing those people driving within the current BAC limit but under the influence of alcohol to contribute to about another 200 deaths and an important number of injuries each year.
'It is hoped that the evidence received during the forthcoming Transport Select Committee enquiry into drink and drug driving law will further emphasise the importance of reducing the BAC limit as part of a wider public health approach to improving road safety.'