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Lower drink-drive limit could save 25 lives a year – study

PUBLISHED: 08:15 24 December 2015

Lowering the drink-drive limit would save lives, according to a new study.

Lowering the drink-drive limit would save lives, according to a new study.

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Around 25 lives could have been saved in Britain this year if England and Wales had followed Scotland’s decision to reduce the drink-drive limit, according to a new study.

A cut in the legal limit from 80mg to 50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood would also have prevented 95 people being seriously injured.

The research was commissioned by motoring charity the RAC Foundation and the government’s road safety advisers the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (Pacts).

Prof Richard Allsop studied road casualty data for Britain from 2010 to 2013 and found that the number of people killed in an accident involving a driver over the alcohol limit was about 240 a year, with an average of 1,200 people seriously injured.

He estimated that if the limit had been 50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood during this period there would have been 25 fewer deaths a year as motorists who drive after drinking would have been encouraged to reduce or eliminate their alcohol intake to comply with the new law.

As Scotland did change its limit to 50mg in December last year, he believes a small proportion of the 25 lives are already being saved.

This brought Scotland into line with many other European countries, such as France, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.

The limit in England and Wales has remained at 80mg since 1967.

RAC Foundation director Steve Gooding said: “It would be a poor argument to suggest we should cut the drink-drive limit just because everyone else has done it. But this report makes the case on robust data and sound analysis.”

The last independent inquiry into the limit, in 2010, recommended a reduction to 50mg.

David Davies, executive director of Pacts, claimed there was a “good case” for parliament to re-examine the issue.

“A driver with 80mg blood alcohol concentration is 12 times more likely to be killed in a collision than a driver with a blood alcohol concentration of zero – but may still be within the law in England and Wales.”

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