Once again the prospect of a reduction in the blood alcohol limit to 50mg /100ml blood is being proposed, with Steven Joyce using his strongest words yet.
“Transport Minister Steven Joyce yesterday described existing legal alcohol limits for drivers as “ridiculous”.
“Speaking to a conference of traffic experts in Auckland, Mr Joyce said he could drink three-quarters of a bottle of wine in 90 minutes yet still have every chance of being under the legal alcohol limit for adult drivers.
““That’s just ridiculous,” he told the Local Authority Traffic Institute conference”
Those are strong words and a good indication that he is inclined to pursue the reduction. He will make the police very happy and thoroughly irritate the hospitality industry.
I have already blogged on how the 50mg limit is a little dubious scientifically. There are a number of studies that indicate a reduction in road injuries and accidents, but there are studies that indicate there is no benefit. I have spent some time looking through both the positive and negative studies, and I have to say that the argument for lowering to limit is very unconvincing.
Lowering the limit for young drivers to zero is much more convincing, scientifically. The countries with zero limits for drivers under 20 report substantial reductions in road fatalities in that age group. There appears to be a substantial halo effect in young people, so that there is a reduction even in accidents involving young people with very high blood alcohols. This effect is not seen in adults, where recidivist drunk drivers remain recidivist.
I am also in favour of lifting the driving age to 18 as this has also been shown to reduce road fatalities in young people. I have never bought the farming argument that young people grow up driving vehicles from a young age. The evidence is that it is young people in rural communities who are most likely to get themselves killed on the open road.
The real problem, of course, is not the legal limit of blood alcohol, but the whole culture of prattishness that says it is fun to get blotto and just a bit stupid to try and drive a car like that. Any level of alcohol in your blood stream impairs your driving and increases your likelihood of an accident. We need to realise that this is not a game of “how close to the limit you can get” but that each and every drink decreases your chance of making it home that night and increases you chance of killing someone else..
If you drink and drive, you are not a “bloody idiot” you are a homicidal fool…