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Thursday, March 4

Government downplays single biggest road safety recommendation


The Government has chosen to place the blame on young people rather than highlight the most important recommendation to come out of the Ministry of Transport’s Safer Journeys discussion paper, the Green Party said today.

“The Government must take the opportunity next month to save an additional 15-33 lives a year on our roads by lowering the alcohol limit for adult drivers to 0.05 mg per 100ml — a level recommended by the World Health Organisation and used by most countries,” said Green Party Transport spokesperson, Gareth Hughes.

“The Government proposals announced today place most of the blame for the worsening road toll on young people. They are a convenient scapegoat for addressing a much deeper problem we have with alcohol,” said Mr Hughes.

Recent progress on road safety has stalled and, for drink driving, has started going backwards. Driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol contributes to a third of all fatal crashes resulting in 119 deaths and 572 serious injuries a year. Over the last four years, there has been a clear increase in drink driving among the 15-19 and 25-34 year old age groups.

“We do support the Government’s moves to lift the driving age to 16, provided there are exemptions for young drivers in rural areas and those who have no other public transport options available to them,” Mr Hughes added.

“We also support a strengthened restricted drivers’ license test.”

“Every drink drive fatality on the road is a tragedy. The Minister needs to do everything in his power to lower the human cost of drink driving, not just focus on young people. The French Government achieved a 30 percent reduction in alcohol-related fatalities when they lowered their alcohol limit to 0.05,” said Mr Hughes.