2014’s drink-drive limit drop didn’t deliver anticipated road safety improvements

Written by Ellie

Lowering the drink-drive limit in Scotland has had little effect on bringing down the number of deaths and accidents on the nation’s roads.

That’s according to a study from the University of Strathclyde.

It found that the lower limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) had not sparked a significant drop in road fatalities, notably in the death rate of drivers aged 16-25, who are seen as one of the highest-risk groups for drink-driving.

Researchers from Strathclyde’s Department of Economics insisted they are not suggesting that previous BAC limit reductions had not been effective, only that the most recent revision failed to produce a material impact on road safety.

The latest BAC limit change came into effect in Scotland in 2014, dropping from 0.08mg to 0.05mg per 100ml of blood.

Researchers looked at more than 1.1 million accidents between 2009 and 2016, which resulted in 1.5 million casualties and more than 14,000 fatalities collectively.

In the two years leading up to the lower BAC limit, Scotland had monthly accident rates of 740.63 and fatality rates of 14.96.

In the two years after the new limit’s introduction, the rates were 704.13 for accidents and 15.25 for fatalities. This was the case in England and Wales too, where the drink-drive limits had been unchanged.

A statement from the researchers suggested that this latest BAC limit reduction had “not achieved all that might have been hoped for it in terms of road safety”.

It added: “While there may be other reasons to pursue a reduction in the BAC limits, our results indicate that the marginal returns to further BAC reductions in terms of road safety are small, which is a result that policy makers should take into account when weighing the costs and benefits of alcohol-control policies.”

Ellie Baker, brand manager at FCS Scotland, commented: “It’s a shame that numbers haven’t been dropped as much as expected but that’s not to say that the approach hasn’t paid off in the past.”

Photo: South_agency/iStock


Posted on 23rd October 2018

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