Stricter drink drive limits backed, survey findsIt would bring Britain in line with Europe

05 September 2007

More than two-thirds of British motorists would support proposals to introduce stricter drink-drive limits, a new survey has found.

At present drivers in the UK can have a maximum of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood - compared with 50mg in most other European countries and 20mg in Poland, Sweden and Norway.

The Department for Transport has estimated that about 80 road deaths a year in Britain can be attributed to blood alcohol levels between 50 and 80mg.

Some 68% of British drivers support lowering the drink-drive limit to bring it into line with the rest of Europe, according to a poll for insurer More Than.

Half a pint

Reducing the limit could mean that drinking more than half a pint of beer or a small glass of wine would make a person of average weight and build legally too intoxicated to drive, the insurer said.

But a road safety study carried out by Brunel University for More Than found that the UK remains one of the safest countries in Europe for drink-drive fatalities.

Researchers also discovered that attitudes towards drinking and driving vary significantly across the continent.

Italy has the same limit as the UK, but Italian drivers have much more liberal perceptions about how much they can legally drink before getting behind the wheel than their British counterparts, they found.

Safety record

Dr Mark Young, of the Brunel University Ergonomics Research Group, said: 'Whilst there are changes afoot to harmonise the limit across all of Europe, attitudes and perceptions towards alcohol will be difficult to change due to local cultural influences.

'However, a reduced limit will be a step in the right direction to improve road safety across Europe.

'Reassuringly, it is encouraging to see that the UK already has one of the safer records for road safety when it comes to drink-driving fatalities.'

The Government plans to look at the drink-drive limit in a consultation on enforcement planned for later this year.

Random breath testing

A Department for Transport (DfT) spokesman said: 'The DfT keeps the drink-drive limit under constant review and has already announced plans to consult on ways of making it even easier for the police to enforce against drink-driving later this year.

'This will include looking at random breath testing and the drink-drive limit.'

* The poll of 2,010 British adults was carried out online by YouGov between July 17 and 19.

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