Lower drink-drive limit has had ‘little effect’ on road safety

Scotland’s drink-drive limit has had little impact on deaths and accidents since the legal alcohol limit for driving was reduced from 80mg to 50mg in every 100ml of blood in 2014, according Research by Strathclyde University’s Department of Economics.

The study found that the lower limit for blood alcohol content (BAC) had not been followed by a statistically significant overall drop in road fatalities, including during the peak accident periods of night-time and weekends. There was also little change in the death rate for young drivers aged 16-25 – regarded as one of the highest-risk groups for drink-driving.

The researchers have stated that they are not suggesting that previous BAC limit reductions had not been ineffective, only that the most recent reduction had not had a material impact on road safety.

The study assessed data on more than 1.1 million accidents, leading to 1.5 million casualties and more than 14,000 fatalities, between 2009 and 2016, with weather conditions also taken into account.

They found that, in the two years leading up to the lower BAC limit, Scotland had monthly accident rates of 740.63 and fatality rates of 14.96. In the two years after the new limit was introduced, the rates were 704.13 for accidents and 15.25 for fatalities. This was consistent with England and Wales, where the BAC limit remained unchanged.

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