International experience proves that lower blood alcohol levels lead to safer roads -Doyle

Adopting international best practice will help save Irish lives

Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Andrew Doyle, has welcomed new legislation to lower the blood alcohol level to 50mg for drivers. Speaking in the Dáil this week, Deputy Doyle highlighted the Australian experience wherein road deaths have decreased markedly as a result of lowering the blood alcohol level.

“When the blood alcohol limit in the State of Queensland, Australia was reduced to 50 mg, the number of road deaths decreased by 18% and the number of serious collisions decreased by 14%. We have to follow best international practice and put it into law here. The rationale for taking these measures is simple and incontrovertible – it will save lives.

“The ongoing legislative initiative aimed at tackling death and injury is a work in progress. Measures taken in this country in the last ten years have been remarkably successful. Road traffic deaths fell by 48% in the ten years to 2010. The number of people killed on the roads that year – 212 – was the lowest since records began in 1959.

Every one of those deaths, like every one of the 142 road deaths so far this year, is a story of tragedy for the family and community in question. It is probably unrealistic to expect to eliminate road accidents and deaths entirely, but we have to strive to achieve this.

“Most accidents are caused by defective roads, defective vehicles or defective drivers. This Bill seeks to deal with the issue of defective drivers. Those who drive when they are tired, when they are under the influence of drink or other substances, or in a reckless manner can be defective in their driving. It is a question of driving responsibly. This Bill will change the legal blood alcohol limit to a level that is generally accepted across the world.

“This legislation would probably have been unacceptable ten years ago. Over the last ten years, a popular consensus has emerged that drink driving does not work. Drinking impairs the ability of drivers to make sound judgments. Statistics show that one in three accidents results from drink driving. In a survey, some 87% of drivers said it was shameful and irresponsible to drink and drive. The challenge we now face is to change the attitude and behaviour of the 13% of drivers who do not share that view.”