ETSC Drink Driving Monitor (20) - February 2014
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Drink Driving Monitor
Policy update from ETSC

Opinion: The EU must act to end the scourge of drink driving

In an article published in the latest edition of the European Voice, Antonio Avenoso argues that the EU should do more to tackle drink driving in Europe. Read more...

Tragedy prompts government action in Poland

The Polish government is cracking down on drink driving after a recent tragedy sparked national media attention. A 26-year-old man allegedly caused the deaths of six pedestrians, including a child, when his car veered onto a pavement in Kamien Pomorski on the Baltic Coast on New Year's Day. A week later, Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced that courts will now issue fines of up to 5,000 zloty (EUR 1200) for causing accidents while driving drunk, licenses will be confiscated for three years and there will be less use of suspended sentences. ETSC member the Motor Transport Institute called for measures including alcohol interlocks as part of a broader strategy to tackle the problem. See: ITS press release (in English)

News in brief

Tougher blood alcohol limits in force in Switzerland and Portugal 

The Swiss government has adopted new measures to tackle drink driving. As of 1 January, novice drivers are subject to a zero alcohol limit for their first three years behind the wheel. The same restriction applies to all professional drivers. On the same day, Portugal lowered its blood alcohol limit for novice drivers and some categories of professional drivers to 0.2g/l, down from the standard 0.5g/l limit. 

15,000 European motorists tested positive in December

A pan European operation last month organised by the Traffic Police Network TISPOL saw police conduct 1,141,058 roadside breath tests for alcohol, of which 15,305 were positive. Motorists were also checked for drugs in the operation, and 2,133 offences were detected. The operation was run in 31 countries between 9 and 15 December. TISPOL President Koen Ricour said: “These results show that too many people are still prepared to risk driving after they have taken alcohol or drugs. Regardless of the legal limit, it’s vital for everyone to know and accept that impairment starts with your very first drink and will reduce your ability to drive safely." See: TISPOL press release

First alcohol interlocks for convicted drink drivers in Belgium

Four years after a new law came into force, judges in Belgium have finally begun requiring convicted drink drivers to install alcohol interlocks in their vehicles. Since August, seven drivers have begun rehabilitation programmes with the Belgian Institute for Road Safety (IBSR), which is also responsible for installing the interlocks.

New US study confirms drink driving unsafe at any level

Drivers who have drunk a small amount of alcohol are more often to blame for fatal car crashes than the sober drivers they collide with, confirms a new study of US data published in the British Medical Journal group’s Injury Prevention. The study examined 570,731 fatal collisions, from 1994 to 2011, and found that drivers with BAC 0.01 percent are 46 percent more likely to be officially and solely blamed by accident investigators than the sober drivers they collide with. The authors also found no “threshold effect” – “no sudden transition from blameless to blamed” at the legal limit for drink driving. Instead, blame increases steadily and smoothly from BAC 0.01 to 0.24 percent. See: study press release

Decline in drink driving in Ireland follows expansion of testing

Figures released in December by the Irish police show a steady decline in the number of drivers testing positive for alcohol as the number of mandatory alcohol testing (MAT) checkpoints has increased. See: Article  

Sweden looks to expand alco-gates at ports

A pilot project run by a consortium including ETSC's Swedish member MHF successfully piloted an 'alco gate' at the port of Gothenburg over the summer. Drivers entering the country from ferries were required to blow into a breathalyser linked to a gate before being able to enter the country. Traffic flow was unaffected as the automated control process takes only a few seconds for each driver. MHF says alco-gates should be installed in all Swedish ports. See: explanatory video (English subtitles) 

Austria trials alcohol interlocks

ETSC's member organisation KFV has launched several trials across Austria to equip taxis and school buses with alcohol interlocks. The drivers will receive professional support, while data and information gathered from the drivers, companies, parents and students will be used to judge the effectiveness of the devices. See: KFV press release (in German)

1 million views for new French cinema ad  

The french actor and director Guillaume Canet has made a short film on the risks of drink driving. The clip, which has been viewed a million times on YouTube, was shown in cinemas across France in December.  Entitled 'Intoxication', it shows moments in the lives of a young couple before an evening out ends in tragedy. See: YouTube
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Alcohol Interlock Barometer

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