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Road Safety: ‘Tis The Season

Every year around this time the Christmas party season gets underway and you can bet your bottom euro that someone somewhere will think it is okay to drive home under the influence.

Over the passing of years – nay, decades – we have had the perils of drink driving drummed into us. There have been very many press and television campaigns highlighting the obvious dangers of driving under the influence of drink and / or drugs. Even still there will be a sad trail of mad, mullahed motorists being dragged off to the chokey; and quite right too. Why doesn’t the message get through?

Once again the campaigning starts. Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is urging drivers to make safety their priority this Christmas and not to take any risks with alcohol. The advice comes as official figures show there has been no decline in the number of people killed through drink-driving in recent years. How is that even possible?

An average of 240 people are killed in the UK through drink-driving each year, a figure that has remained unchanged since 2010 according to the Department for Transport. Latest Government figures show there were more than 607,000 breath tests conducted in England and Wales in 2014, of which 67,000 were positive or refusals.

GEM road safety officer Neil Worth commented: “It is unacceptable that drink-drive deaths have not reduced. The time is now absolutely right for a reduction in the limit, which we believe will give a strong and clear message to anyone still willing to take a risk by drinking and then driving”.

The legal limit in England and Wales is 35 micrograms (µg) of alcohol in 100ml of breath. In Scotland the limit changed in December 2014 and is now 22µg. This is equivalent to a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.8 in England and Wales and 0.5 in Scotland.

The penalty for a first drink-driving offence is a minimum 12-month ban, a fine of up to £2,500, and even a prison sentence of up to six months. Refusal to provide a specimen carries the same penalty.

Neil Worth continued: “Don’t ever take a risk with drink-driving. If you’re going out for a few drinks, then make arrangements to get home. A £20 taxi fare is definitely worth every penny for your peace of mind. And if you prefer to drive, then stay on soft drinks. Finally, do be aware that alcohol takes time to be expelled from your system. Just because you’ve been to sleep does not mean you’re safe to drive next morning. That’s why around one in six of all positive breath tests are provided ‘the morning after’”.

That’s clear enough isn’t it?

The old saying that nobody likes a grass may have some resonance but there’s a case here for grassing up anyone who is stupid enough to take a car whilst being royally bladdered. Take keys away from your friends. Call a cab. Do something. The alternative is that they will be nicked by the peelers or they will injure or kill themselves. Worse still they could kill somebody else. It could be one of yours. For the sake of road safety take drink driving seriously.

Here endeth the lesson. Geoff Maxted