Safety campaigners have urged for a cut in the alcohol limit to curb drink-driving deaths.
The breath test was first introduced 40 years ago today and has helped prevent thousands of deaths and serious injuries, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (Rospa).
Estimates at the time suggested that drink driving led to about 13,000 fatal and serious casualties each year. But by 1987 that figure had dropped to 6,800 and by last year it had fallen to 2,500.
But Rospa says there is still a need for a further cut in the drink-drive limit from the current 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg.
It estimates the move which would save around 65 lives and 230 serious injuries on Britain’s roads each year.
Rospa says that drivers with between 50mg and 80mg of alcohol are likely to be two to two-and-a-half times more likely to be involved in an accident and six times more likely to be in a fatal crash than with no alcohol in their system.
Kevin Clinton, Rospa Head of Road Safety, said: ‘Rospa had been calling for drink-drive legislation during the 1960s because of growing evidence that alcohol played a part in many road accidents.
‘At the time, more than 7,000 people were dying on Britain’s roads annually and it was hoped the new law would save hundreds of lives each year.
‘In fact, according to one report from the time, it was hoped the drink-drive hazard would be “effectively ified”.
‘Sadly, this hasn’t happened, and the menace of alcohol is still causing misery. It is now time for renewed action.’