'SMART' policies for tackling drink driving'

Published Fri, 20/11/2015 - 14:06

SMART = 'sober mobility across road transport'

TISPOL recently attended a conference in London on the subject of drink-drive enforcement.

Speakers included

  • Francesca Manchi, Political Officer European Commission Representation in the UK
  • Antonio Avenso  Excutive Director ETSC
  • Elizabeth Shovelton UK Department of Transport Dft
  • Tim Madgwick Deputy Chief Constable North Yorkshire Police
  • Professor Allsop Special Advisor to PACTS


These speakers covered Drink Driving in the EU and the UK. It is estimated that 230 (14%) of the 1,713 road deaths in the UK and about 5,000 road deaths in Europe are due to drinking and driving. For England, Wales and Northern Ireland the 80 milligrams (0.8) of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood driving limit still stands. Scotland reduced its limit to 50 (0.5) milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood in December 2014.  


For every six drivers who die in the UK driving under the influence (DUI) of alcohol, one driver dies having drunk alcohol, but not above the 0.8 DUI limit. The situation with drink driving limits and the effects of different types of alcohol on the body when driving, may be currently confusing for drivers, so there has to be the message "do not drink at all when driving". There are also emerging concerns of drug and alcohol addictions among drivers and the increase of women drivers and alcohol.


In a recent poll it was stated that a staggering amount of only 3% of drivers in Great Britain actually knew what the limit was, let alone what amounts they could drink and stay within the drink driving limit. The data in Scotland since the reduction shows a marked reduction in drinking and driving.


Unfortunately there is a 'patchwork' of alcohol limits across Europe. The vast majority of EU countries have a 0.5 limit and some countries have a 20 (0.20) milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood (effectively a zero limit) for novice and professional drivers. It was stated that unless the 0.8 limit is reduced in line with other European countries, 25 persons will die and 100 will be seriously injured each year in England because of this.


In the UK, rehabilitation courses for repeat drink drivers has proved successful. Fifteen European countries have introduced alcolocks and there is an EU driving licence code number 69 that shows if a driver is subject to an alcolock in a vehicle. The EU is looking to direct that all future new vehicles will be fitted with alcolock technology. ETSC recommends a reinforcement of drink drive limits in all countries across Europe to save lives and serious injuries.


It was explained that we could be heading into 'a perfect storm' with road casualty results flat lining in Europe and police enforcement resources declining.



A Good Practice Exchange Session on Drink Driving Polices from parts of Europe saw the following Speakers

Pär-Ola Skarviken Swedish Transport Agency
Anne Beate Budalen Norwegain Public Roads Administration
Marita Löytty Finnish Traffic Safety Agency (TRAFI)


The Scandinavian speakers discussed policies and programmes in their countries. In Sweden approximately 25% of road deaths are caused by drinking and driving. The level of drinking and driving does appear to be going down, but drugs driving is going up. There are lots of random checks by police on the road and a strong political will for education and for the use of alcohol Interlock programmes since 2007. Alcolocks are used in 95% of buses in Sweden and what is known as 'Alcogates' at ferry ports. Alcolock programmes for repeat offenders are under certain conditions and the costs must be  borne by the offender, in the region of 2,000 euros.


Norway was the first county in the world to introduce a drink drive limit in 1936. It was then 0.5. Alcohol is very expensive due to high taxation and only available from State owned monopoly liquor shops, but large quantities are brought in from abroad with tax.  In 2014 there were 147 road deaths in Norway and so far this year they are up to 97, so the figures are encouraging but still 22% of road deaths are due to alcohol and 14% to drugs. Alcolock programmes need to be implemented for the highest blood alcohol (BAC) levels and by the start of 2016 all buses will be fitted with Alcolocks.


In Finland alcolocks have been in use for 10 years. 20% of road deaths and 10% of serious injuries are caused by DUI.


A UK speaker from the 'Brewers and Pubs Association' stated that the industry supports all the work against drunk driving and promotes and funds campaigns to better educate drivers against drinking and driving over the legal limit. In a recent public information campaign 'One drink can kill' was the slogan to educate drivers of the dangers.