Breathalyser marks 50 years in service

Renewed calls to tackle drink driving have been made this week, 50 years since the breathalyser was first used and the current drink drive limit was introduced.

“The past 50 years of drink drive progress are a road safety success,” said Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety executive director David Davies. “But after a long period in which drink drive deaths fell substantially, we have had a series of years of little or no change and declining enforcement.”

The group claims that breath testing by police has fallen to a 15 year low and calls for a more ambitious and comprehensive approach to tackling drink driving, with better use of intelligence and technology.

Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart is calling for a new lower drink drive limit and said that drink drive rehabilitation courses should be made compulsory for those motorists convicted of the crime. “The Government should introduce a lower limit in England and Wales but that is unlikely to eradicate the problem completely,” said director of policy and research Neil Greig.

“The best way to catch those who ignore the limit is through intelligence led high profile policing so investment in roads policing must be protected,” he added. “But it must not be forgotten that drivers who take a drink drive rehabilitation course are less likely to reoffend.”

The Government said that thousands of lives have been saved since the Road Safety Act 1967 made it an offence to drive a vehicle with a blood alcohol concentration of over 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. A new drink drive campaign will be launched at the end of November.

Roads Minister Jesse Norman said: “The change in attitudes to drink driving during this time has been profound and there is little doubt that the introduction of the drink drive limit helped to give us what remains one of the safest road networks in the world.

“There is still much further to go, but we are making good progress,” he added. “Our THINK! campaigns should help to reduce the number of drink drive incidents even further.”