Prevention is undoubtedly better than cure. Especially when it comes to issues of life and death such as drink-driving. Before the recent festive break Scottish authorities announced a new blood alcohol limit, allowing drivers a maximum of 50mg of alcohol in every 100ml of blood and bringing the country’s legislation in line with the limits of other EU member states. This means that even a single glass of wine or pint of beer could take a driver over the limit, which could potentially result in a ban or even a custodial sentence if they are caught in such a state by the police.
The Facts and Figures
Drink-driving related deaths and casualties in Scotland have been reduced since the big push against drink driving in the 1980s. In 2011, 680 casualties on Scottish roads were attributed to drink driving. Whilst no number of incidents is acceptable, this represents a fall of 43% from the 2001 figure of 1,190 casualties. The amount of drink driving convictions in Scotland was at its highest during the 1980s when over 10,000 male drivers were convicted of a drink driving offence. In 2011 this had fallen by over 60% to 4,314 convictions. There is no doubt that these hard figures provided the Scottish administration with the ammunition they needed to push through the legislation to change the drink-driving limit.
A Decided Drop
According to an article published on the BBC website at the end of December, the new Scottish drink driving limit helped cut the number of drink-driving offences. Figures produced by Police Scotland showed that 255 people were stopped under the influence of drink or drugs in the last three weeks of 2014 compared to a similar figure of 348 motorists in 2013. In total 13,346 drivers were stopped and breathalysed by the police, or around 640 per day. Police Scotland’s Assistant Chief Constable Bernard Higgins stated that “there is no doubt that the new limit, and what it means, is challenging a lot of people” showing that he believes the reduction in figures is down to this new legislation.
South of the Border
Unfortunately similar measures are yet to be adopted all the way across the UK. Even though drink-driving is recognised as a big problem in England, particularly over the festive period, there are no plans to change the safe limit for alcohol in a driver’s bloodstream in this country. This is despite a full on campaign that featured an extremely chilling television advert based on Kool and the Gang’s hit song Celebrate, which reminded us that a single fatal accident due to drink driving is one accident too many. With the change in Scottish legislation producing such positive results, will a similar change be on the cards for England in 2015?
A Final Word of Advice
We can all help deal with drink-driving when it happens. Whether it is the festive season or not, if you know that you are going to be drinking then make sure you take the right precautions. Arrange to stay on a friend’s sofa, use a designated driver or even book a taxi if you know you are going to be drinking and this way you can avoid all risk of causing an accident on the roads. Equally if you have a friend or associate that is trying to drive their car after any number of drinks, then it may be best to try to advise them to get a taxi home or to even offer them a bed for the night. In all of these cases with drink-driving it is always better to be safe than sorry.