REDUCING THE DRINK DRIVE LIMIT IN SCOTLAND CONSULTATION QUESTIONNAIRE

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1 REDUCING THE DRINK DRIVE LIMIT IN SCOTLAND CONSULTATION QUESTIONNAIRE 1. Do you agree that the drink drive limits should be reduced in Scotland? Yes No If yes, please go to Q1A. If no, please go to Q2. 1A. The Scottish Government is proposing: A reduction in the blood limit from 80mg of alcohol in every 100 ml of blood to 50 mg of alcohol in every 100 ml of blood; An (equivalent) reduction in the breath limit from 35 mcg of alcohol in 100 ml of breath to 22 mcg of alcohol in every 100 ml of breath; and An (equivalent) reduction in the urine limit from 107 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of urine to 67 mg of alcohol in every 100 ml of urine. Do you agree with the SG proposal to reduce the drink driving limits? Yes No (Optional question) 2. Do you have any evidence for what would be the main consequences of the SG proposals? There is a range of international evidence which supports the SG proposals. As referred to in the consultation document the North Review Committee, led by Sir Peter North CBE QC, recommended that the blood alcohol limit be reduced to 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood and the equivalent amounts in breath and urine. 1 The Review considered a range of evidence, including a report from NICE which stated that a driver with a BAC of between 50 mg/100 ml and 80 mg/100 ml is at least 6 times more likely to die in a collision than a driver who had not had consumed alcohol. Therefore the main consequence of the SG proposals is likely to be a reduction in crashes involving a driver over the blood alcohol limit, and thereby a reduction in road casualties. 1 cs/northreview-report.pdf

2 Prof Richard Allsop wrote a PACTS research briefing in 2005 in which he found that reducing the blood alcohol limit to 50mg/100ml would prevent 65 deaths and 230 people from being seriously injured per year. 2 Paragraph 3.10 of the consultation document suggests that a lower limit would save between 3 and 17 lives a year on Scotland s roads. The consultation document also states: 3.04 Our central message on drink driving is simple - don t drink and drive. This is because people cannot accurately estimate a safe level of alcohol consumption and it is better not to drink at all rather than try and estimate a safe level of alcohol before deciding to drive. This is also because it has been shown that any alcohol in your body can adversely affect how you drive. This don t drink and drive message is simple and clear. In the future, the SG may like to consider matching this message with an effectively zero tolerance limit, namely 20 mg of alcohol in every 100 ml of blood. As the North Review Committee Report states: The NICE Report provides clear evidence that a person s ability to drive is affected after consuming any amount of alcohol. A driver who has a BAC of between 20 mg/100 ml and 50 mg/100 ml is at least 3 times more likely to die in a road traffic accident than a person who has no alcohol in their body Do you have any evidence for what would be the financial impact of the SG proposals? The consultation document estimates that reducing the drink drive limit in Scotland would save between 3 and 17 lives a year. Given that the Department for Transport estimates that the value of preventing a death on the road is 1.68 million 4 the minimum financial impact of the SG proposals would be between 5.04 million and million a year. This is not including the cost savings due to preventing serious injuries, estimated at 190,000 each, and slight casualties at an average of 14,000 each. These values of preventing deaths and injuries are calculated using the following elements: - Loss of output due to injury - Ambulance costs and costs of medical treatment - Human costs based on willingness to pay to avoid pain, grief and cs/northreview-report.pdf 4

3 suffering to the casualty, relatives and friends. Additionally, positive effects of the proposals may spread to other areas of policy which are concerned with alcohol use and misuse, for example public health. If the government is seen to be severe on drink driving this will support any cross-departmental messages on tackling the negative effects of alcohol. 4. Do you have any comments to make on the ancillary matters related to the SG s proposal to reduce the drink drive limits? PACTS agrees with the SG s proposals regarding the statutory option and the ratio between the drink drive limits. 5. Are there any other measures that should be considered in order to tackle drink driving? Acceptance and awareness As with any changes to law, it will be vitally important for the SG to raise public awareness and gain public acceptance on any new drink drive limits. The consultation document outlined research showing that drink driving is generally culturally unacceptable and that the public agreed that the limit should be lower The Scottish Government s The Public and the Justice System: Attitudes, Drivers and Behaviour Literature Review looked at driver behaviour and attitudes towards drink driving. 72% of those who responded to the study either strongly agreed or slightly agreed that the legal limit for alcohol when driving should be reduced to discourage people from drinking when they are drinking. It will be important to build on this acceptance, possibly by running a campaign outlining the road safety benefits of lowering the limit.

4 Compliance Research reported at the PACTS conference Achieving Compliance 5 showed that two thirds of drivers reported being deterred by risk of detection, collision & the likely penalty. 1. Risk of detection: Police need to have a visible presence to help deter illegal behaviour. Therefore roads police numbers should be maintained. Police should also be permitted to conduct targeted breath tests. In the 1998 consultation paper Combating Drink Driving: Next Steps (DETR 1998), the Government acknowledged that breath tests are the main enforcement weapon against drink driving. Northern Ireland proposed random breath tests in its recent consultation on drink driving, and although the SG does not have this power it could lobby the UK government on this point. 2. Risk of collision: Education and awareness come into force here, to make drivers conscious of the risk they pose to themselves and others if they drink and drive. Northern Ireland proposes to automatically refer convicted drink drivers to a drink drive rehabilitation course, unless a District Judge thinks it inappropriate to do so. The SG could monitor this in Northern Ireland, and consider a similar procedure. 3. The likely penalty: Even if the SG did have the power to change the penalty for drink driving, PACTS would not recommend a change for a lower limit of 50mg/100ml, as this may give the impression that it is a lower offence. However, if the SG were to consider lowering the limit to 20mg/100ml in the future, it should look to Northern Ireland where graduated penalties have been proposed. Different limits for different driver groups The consultation in Northern Ireland proposed a lower limit of 20mg/100ml for professional drivers, and young and novice drivers. PACTS responded with the following comments: - As it is not a legal requirement to carry a licence, how will this lower limit be enforced? - We agree that this lower limit for novice drivers sends out a good message, and while we do not wish to discourage this, we consider that it may not have a big impact on statistics. Drink drive incidents are as much of a problem for drivers in their 20s as those aged under Employers should have company policy in place for monitoring professional drivers. The Department has already recognised how it can be effective in encouraging a safety culture for professional drivers, as stated in the Northern Ireland Road Safety Strategy to 2020: We will highlight the risks of driving for work and promote with 5

5 employers the importance of managing occupational road risk and their legal responsibilities in this area. We will encourage all employers to adopt management of road risk policies and provide information and advice on how this might be approached for both professional drivers and people who drive occasionally for work. As well as drink driving being a problem for slightly more experienced young drivers, and the practical enforcement difficulties, road safety experts are concerned that once drivers who are subject to a 20mg/100ml limit become subject to the 50mg/100ml limit, they may mistakenly think it is safe to drink more and drive. The SG may like to consider a lower limit for professional drivers in the future, to reflect their significant responsibility for the safety of other road users whether they be the driver of a passenger vehicle or a large vehicle. This limit would be in line with other transport professionals such as train drivers, airline pilots and air traffic controllers. In the meantime however, the SG can work with ScORSA (Scottish Occupational Road Safety Alliance) to promote best practice in managing occupational road risk. Please this response by 29 November 2012 to: Or you can post it to: Jim Wilson Room 2W Justice Directorate Scottish Government St Andrew s House Regent Road Edinburgh EH1 3DG

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