10:29 Monday 03 February 2014

Calls for zero-tolerance on drink-driving policy

Written byGARETH BUTTERFIELD

A ROAD safety charity has praised police for their increased efforts to catch drink and drug drivers over the festive period and welcomed news that drink drive arrests were down while breath-tests were up.

According to official figures 6,550 people were arrested in the month-long police enforcement campaign over Christmas and New Year, 573 less than during the same period last year.

The drop in arrests comes despite a welcome increase in enforcement activity over the period, with 191,040 breath tests conducted, up from 175,831 in 2012. Police bosses say 3.4 per cent of those tested failed or refused the test, down from four per cent in 2012. Drink driving also fell among young people, with 4.4 per cent of under 25s failing the test, down from 5.3 per cent in 2012.

However, Brake warns there is still a long way to go to completely stamp out the menace of drink and drug driving throughout the year.

According to a recent Brake survey, many drivers are continuing to take the deadly risk of driving after drinking, and many who pass the breath test could still be unsafe to drive due to the UK’s high drink drive limit.

As a result, the charity is renewing its calls for a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg per 100 ml blood at the same time as urging the government to give greater priority to traffic policing and ensure sufficient resourcing is available for vital drink and drug driving enforcement, following significant cuts in recent years.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, said: “It is encouraging to see an increase in vital drink drive enforcement over the festive period and fewer arrests.

“However drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on our roads and we have some way to go before we persuade all drivers to commit to never driving after drinking.

“People who persist in drink driving needlessly put the lives of others at grave risk and too often cause crashes that devastate families and communities, all for the sake of a drink.

“The police do great work catching these irresponsible drivers, but the government needs to give them the backing they need to do their job, by making traffic policing a national priority and adopting a zero tolerance limit. The message needs to be clear: it should be none for the road.”

One in six deaths on UK roads are caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit, but drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood.

This is because even small amounts of alcohol affect drivers’ reaction times, judgment and co-ordination.

Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not.

Brake’s calls for a zero tolerance limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are intended to send a message of ‘none for the road’.

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