The latest drink-drive blitz in Auckland over the weekend shows that people are not taking the risks of drinking and driving seriously.

Alcohol Healthwatch Director Rebecca Williams points out that last year 135 people died as a result of drinking and driving (31% of road deaths). A further 1899 people were injured.

Alcohol Healthwatch supports the NZ Police recommendation for lower blood alcohol limits and points to the Alcohol Healthwatch briefing paper on the matter. We simply aren’t making gains in this area and new measures need to be introduced.

When driving with a blood alcohol level over the current limit of 80mg, you are sixteen times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than a sober driver*. The current level allows for serious impairment of essential driving skills.

Almost all countries that have lowered their blood alcohol concentration to 50mg or lower have experienced reduced crashes, injuries and fatalities. Taking international reductions into account New Zealand could expect to save between 16-72 lives and between 640-1280 injuries a year. This is a substantial opportunity given that our road toll is stuck above 400 deaths per year and the goal is no more than 300.

Williams says that while lowering blood alcohol limits is an effective tool targeting the whole of the population, additional specific measures are needed to combat the hard core of repeat offenders.

There is strong public support for lowering the drink drive limits. Nearly 70% of submitters on the National Road Safety Strategy 2010 supported lowering the blood alcohol limits.

* www.transport.govt.nz

For more information contact:
Rebecca Williams
Alcohol Healthwatch
Ph: 09 520 7035
Mobile 021 862 250
To know more about the Action on Liquor campaign and view the briefing paper on Blood Alcohol Concentration visit http://www.ahw.org.nz/page.php?92