The recent passing of the law banning smoking in a vehicle with anyone under 18 years old heralded a new era for health and safety and was welcomed by politicians and the British Medical Association. However, safety experts are now urging for the same logic to be applied to alcohol and the drink-drive limit.
Following Scotland’s announcement in December 2014 to reduce the drink-drive limit to the ‘zero tolerance’ level of 50mg Blood Alcohol Content (BAC), a figure which mirrors much of Europe, the rest of the UK is still seriously lagging behind with their current drink-drive allowance of 80mg BAC – a scary one and a half times higher than the zero tolerance figure.
In 2014 alone, alcohol accounted for 5,650 accidents and 8,320 casualties1 on UK roads and research has shown that an individual is three times more likely to have a road related accident even after just one drink versus being sober2.
Suzannah Robin, alcohol safety expert and Sales and Training Manager at AlcoDigital - the UK’s leading supplier of breathalyzers – works with corporate and governmental organisations addressing their alcohol and drug testing needs. She commented:
“Based on the current rate of drink-drive related accidents and casualties in the UK there is a very strong argument for lowering the UK’s drink-drive limit to ‘zero tolerance’. Smoking in your vehicle clearly has negative health implications and it is right that passengers are protected from inhaling second-hand smoke, however, the dangers associated with having any alcohol in your system whilst driving have sadly been proven over and over again so it makes sense that this shouldn’t be acceptable under any circumstances either.”
However, simply lowering the drink-drive limit alone may not be enough. Suzannah explains:
“In France, where the ‘zero tolerance’ drink-drive limit has been in effect for a number of years, all motorists are now legally obliged to keep a breathalyzer in their vehicle so that they can test themselves to ensure they are under the drink-drive limit before driving. Following its implementation in 2012 the breathalyzer law has made a significant contribution to road safety with the CISR [
“Even one drink can affect our reaction and coordination dramatically so the only safe limit when driving is zero. France’s breathalyzer law has clearly played a significant part in reinforcing the ‘zero tolerance’ drink-drive limit and improving road safety.”
Even those who take stock of the old adage that one unit of alcohol can be processed in one hour should think again.
“Without a breathalyzer it is impossible to know whether you’re back to zero or not. In the same way that everyone loses weight at different rates, we all process alcohol differently. Without a breathalyzer it is impossible to know whether you’re back to zero or not as there is no set formula or rule for why one person processes alcohol more quickly than another.”