Drink-drive limit should be lowered, urge councils and fire authorities
The legal drink-drive limit should be lowered in England
and Wales to help cut alcohol-related accidents, which new provisional figures
show have risen, councils and fire and rescue authorities have urged.
The Local Government Association (LGA), which represents
more than 370 councils and all fire and rescue authorities in England and
Wales, is calling on the government to drop the current limit from 80mg to 50mg
of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
England and Wales have one of the highest drink-drive
limits in the world and the highest in Europe, with the exception of Malta,
which has already announced plans to lower its limit to 50mg. Northern Ireland
is also due to introduce a lower limit this year.
Between 2010 and 2015 the number of people killed in
reported drink-drive accidents has remained between 220 and 240.
It is estimated that lowering the drink-drive limit could
save up to 170 lives in the first year of implementation, rising to more than
300 lives in the sixth year.
A lower limit would also save £300 million annually by
reducing the number of 999 responses and hospital admissions.
New provisional government figures show that reported
‘serious' drink-drive accidents between 2014 and 2015 in Britain increased from
880 to 980 - a rise of 11% - while total reported drink-drive accidents have
risen from 5,620 to 5,740 - a 2% increase.
The same figures show the number of people seriously
injured in reported drink-drive accidents between 2014 and 2015 has risen from
1,070 to 1,170 - an increase of 9% - while the total number of drink-drive
casualties has risen from 8,210 to 8,480 - a 3% increase.
Scotland, which has lowered the drink-drive limit to
50mg, saw a 20% reduction in fatal road accidents in the first year after the
new limit was introduced.
Cllr Simon Blackburn, chairman of the LGA's Safer and
Stronger Communities Board, said:
“England and Wales will soon have the highest drink-drive
limit in Europe which is not sending the right message to motorists and safety
“Latest figures show that alcohol has contributed to a
rise in both the number of road accidents and those injured in the UK. Lowering
the drink-drive limit could save up to 170 lives in the first year alone and
almost £300 million annually by reducing the number of call-outs to accidents,
emergency service costs and hospital admissions.
“The government should be leading by example
by toughening up drink-drive laws in line with other European countries
which will make roads safer and save lives. In Scotland alone, adopting a
lower alcohol limit has led to a significant fall in fatal road accidents.
“Fire and rescue authorities, which run hard-hitting road
safety campaigns to tackle drink-driving to show the tragic consequences of
road traffic collisions, want to see a lower alcohol limit introduced as it
would help to reduce these fatal and traumatic accidents.
“A lower alcohol limit would help to deter motorists from
drinking at all before getting behind the wheel and encourage them to have
‘none for the road’.
“With Northern Ireland set to follow Scotland’s example,
and numerous organisations supporting a lower alcohol limit, the government
should examine the evidence from other countries and lower the drink-drive
limit in order to improve public safety.”