Prevent road deaths by cracking down on drink driving, ETSC says

prevent road deaths
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The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) has called on the EU to implement a zero tolerance policy on drink driving to prevent road deaths.

Around 25% of the EU’s 25,000 road deaths per year are related to alcohol, according to estimates by the European Commission. The EU has set itself a target of halving the number of serious injuries and deaths which occur on its roads by 2030; a new report by the ETSC recommends a number of measures and policy updates which could help to prevent road deaths linked to drink driving.

The ETSC’s recommendations include:

  • Implementing a ‘zero tolerance’ minimum blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.2 grams per litre across all EU Member States – minimum BACs currently vary widely between countries, with limits of 0.2g/l in nine Member States including Czechia, Poland and Sweden, rising to the highest limit of 0.8g/l in England and Wales, but dropping back to 0.5g/l in Scotland;
  • Extending requirements for the standard installation of alcohol interlock devices, which will be mandatory in all newly built vehicles in the EU from 2022, to include professional vehicles – such as vans and lorries – and a wider range of drink driving offenders; and
  • Introducing stricter enforcement for drink driving offences and potentially implementing national targets for roadside driver checks.

Ellen Townsend, Policy Director of ETSC said: “Almost 70 years since the first scientific evidence was published on the link between drink driving and road deaths, it is impossible to accept that thousands of families are still being ripped apart every year in the EU because of it. In 2020, we want to see the EU and Member States coming up with a vision to end drink driving once and for all with a combination of zero tolerance limits, a big step up in enforcement and wider use of technology such as mandatory use of alcohol interlocks in buses, lorries and vans.”

The report also highlights the need for consistent and comprehensive data collection on road deaths across the EU, noting that due to disparities in BAC limits between Member States, road deaths may be attributed to drink driving in countries with lower BAC limits which would not be reported as alcohol-related in countries with higher limits.


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