Police chiefs gather in Edinburgh to combat fatality figures on Europe's roads
Speaking ahead of the TISPOL (European Traffic Police) annual conference, which takes place today (Tuesday 2 October) and tomorrow (Wednesday 3 October) in Edinburgh, TISPOL president, Pasi Kemppainen said he was committed to finding initiatives that would help to reduce the unacceptable death toll.
'Statistics show that alcohol-impaired road users are still involved in around 25% of the 30,000 annual road deaths in Europe. Additionally, it is believed that around two per cent of all road journeys in Europe are made by drivers with an illegal level of blood alcohol content,' he said.
'The situation with drug driving is less clear but equally serious, and it is believed that drugs are a factor in a further 25% of fatal crashes.
'Better awareness-raising and more widespread, robust enforcement can make a difference in reducing the casualties. We welcome the Scottish Government’s consultation on proposals to lower the drink drive limit. We hope this will result in a decision to bring in a lower limit. We believe the long-term goal should be a low drink-drive limit that is the same across Europe, with an additional zero limit for novice drivers and professional drivers. As we work towards that, we must ensure we pursue other measures, including alcohol interlocks, campaigns and education, to support our vital enforcement work,' he added.
'Drug driving is also a highly dangerous and complex issue on our roads and costs many lives. Inspector Martin Boorman of Victoria Police in Australia will inform delegates about the latest enforcement measures against drug driving in his country. This will be an opportunity to consider future measures in Europe to enforce drug driving more effectively, Kemppainen concluded.
Scottish Transport Minister, Keith Brown said: 'Tragically, latest figures estimate that on average there are 30 fatalities on Scotland's roads each year related to drink driving. That's why we are proposing action to make our roads safer by reducing the drink driving limit to a level that would bring Scotland into linewith most of the rest of Europe.
'It is only now, with recently secured Scotland Act 2012 powers, that the Scottish Government is able to set the drink driving limit inScotland. We will continue to press the UK Government for a more extensive devolution of powers over drink driving,including legislation to enable the police to conduct breath tests any time, anywhere. The consequences of drug driving can be equally devastating. We are currently working with the UK Government to consider a new drug drivingoffence.
'Scotland recently recorded the lowest road casualty figures since records began, however one death on our roads is one too many. Our co-ordinated approach is based on education, engineering and enforcement, combined with targeted safety campaigns and demanding targets for Scotland's roads. We are working with partners in local authorities, the police, the fire and rescue service and road safetyorganisations to meet our ambitious targets,' he concluded.
Conference chair, Suzette Davenport believes the Conference offers an ideal forum to challenge traditional methods of reducing road casualties. 'We live in challenging times, where we are all required to work differently. We have to give ourselves the best chance of making Europe’s roads safer,' she said.
The TISPOL Conference takes place at the Roxburghe Hotel, Edinburgh, on Tuesday 2 and Wednesday 3 October 2012.