I see in today's paper that deaths and injuries in road accidents involving drink driving are at a record low:
deaths are down 5% from 400 in 2008 to 380 in 2009;
serious injuries are also down by 9% to 1,480; and
slight injuries down by 8% to 10,130.
I wrote about this issue at length in March, so I won't cover all the same ground. It seems clear to me that the drink-drive messages are slowly getting through, but that won't stop further calls to reduce the current drink drive limit, as recommended recently in the report by Sir Peter North. The cry that "one death is one too many" is a hard one to argue against, especially when it comes from a bereaved relative, but before a further reduction is contemplated, we need evidence that lowering the limit will make any difference. As I said in my previous posting, I don't believe it will, since the really dangerous drivers are those who couldn't care less about the limit and drive when they're several times over it, and who would carry on drinking and driving even if the limit was zero. I'd want evidence that someone making 3 or 4 halves of beer or a glass of wine last all evening is a real danger on the road; I have never seen any such evidence.
Like everyone else, I want to see that figure of 380 reduced further, and - unusually for me - I agree with a Tory. Just before the general election, Tory transport spokesperson Theresa Villiers said her party wouldn't cut the limit: “We do not believe the case has been made to justify such a change. We would focus on enforcement of the current rules.” I hope there's no U-turn now that her party is in government.
Cutting the limit would be the easy, virtually cost-free and largely ineffective option. Catching the genuinely drunk drivers would cost rather more. So, do we want an easy quick fix or an approach that will make a difference?