40-year anniversary of the breathalyser

40-year anniversary of the breathalyser

40 years ago yesterday (October 9), the first breath test of a motorist took place in the UK. They’d had a horror year with alcohol-related road deaths – some 13,000 the authorities estimated. By last year that was slashed to 2,500. The interesting statistic is that in 1967, 28% of drivers/riders killed had a blood alcohol reading of more than 80mg/100ml of blood. In 2006, that figure was 20%. Something else has been a bigger factor in the reduction in fatalities, and that would be the copious safety measures put into modern cars. Airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, collapsible steering columns and pedals, side intrusion beams, active head restraints, and immensely improved crash absorption in the bodywork has meant that you’re quite likely to come out alive if you have a crash. It seems the drink driving message hasn’t really got through. Only last week we had some idiot 8 times over the limit. And it happens every day. Education is not the whole answer – you can only attempt to persuade people who are as thick as pig shite and unable to reason; you can only show people the consequences of other’s actions and hope that they will have the mental faculties to imagine what it would be like if it was them. Obviously the total elimination of alcohol from our society would rectify more than just drink driving (violence and other crimes would significantly diminish, and our health system wouldn’t be as strained), but prohibition didn’t work before, and it won’t work again. The only way we’re going to be able to ensure that a driver cannot get behind the wheel of a car drunk is to ensure that every car comes with its own breathalyser and won’t start if you can’t pass its test. And perhaps euthanasia for recidivist drink drivers.

40 years ago yesterday (October 9), the first breath test of a motorist took place in the UK. They’d had a horror year with alcohol-related road deaths – some 13,000 the authorities estimated. By last year that was slashed to 2,500. The interesting statistic is that in 1967, 28% of drivers/riders killed had a blood alcohol reading of more than 80mg/100ml of blood. In 2006, that figure was 20%. Something else has been a bigger factor in the reduction in fatalities, and that would be the copious safety measures put into modern cars. Airbags, seatbelt pretensioners, collapsible steering columns and pedals, side intrusion beams, active head restraints, and immensely improved crash absorption in the bodywork has meant that you’re quite likely to come out alive if you have a crash. It seems the drink driving message hasn’t really got through. Only last week we had some idiot 8 times over the limit. And it happens every day. Education is not the whole answer – you can only attempt to persuade people who are as thick as pig shite and unable to reason; you can only show people the consequences of other’s actions and hope that they will have the mental faculties to imagine what it would be like if it was them. Obviously the total elimination of alcohol from our society would rectify more than just drink driving (violence and other crimes would significantly diminish, and our health system wouldn’t be as strained), but prohibition didn’t work before, and it won’t work again. The only way we’re going to be able to ensure that a driver cannot get behind the wheel of a car drunk is to ensure that every car comes with its own breathalyser and won’t start if you can’t pass its test. And perhaps euthanasia for recidivist drink drivers.

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