Lowering the blood alcohol limit

Lowering the blood alcohol limit

The Dominion Post reported today that government agencies have recommended lowering driver blood alcohol limits. It’s looking for ‘real and enduring changes’ to tackle the effects of heavy drinking.

While I think this is a great idea (I personally don’t drink because of an allergy to alcohol), the quoted statistics are for road deaths involving drink or drugs and show an increase in deaths from 109 in 2006 to 128 in 2007. Hang on a minute – a reduction in the tolerance for drugs hasn’t been mentioned at all by the article, only alcohol.

So, perhaps the increase is all to do with drugs and maybe there’s a declining proportion of alcohol-related fatalities. Who knows? Certainly not the readers of the Dominion Post because (once again) failure to clarify a story has resulted in a report that’s not complete.

There are a few questions that haven’t been answered, including:

1) The figures that are quoted assume compliance with the law. How many people who will potentially kill themselves will actually care, and adhere to the law?

2) When you say that an accident was directly related to alcohol consumption, at what point is the cut-off? Is it just for people that are over the limit? In this case, if we reduce the limit, that could potentially increase the number of accidents that are deemed to be as a result of alcohol because there’ll be a larger sample of people who don’t care (who accidentally kill/injure themselves) who will now be counted as an alcohol-related statistic

3) If you take away the extreme cases and recidivist drunk drivers, how many are you left with?

The reporter did say that 2336 injuries were related to alcohol, and this costs the taxpayer $838 million, so any reduction in alcohol intake will be a welcome relief for this. The reporter goes on to say that a quarter of all ACC claims are alcohol-related – is that just motoring-related alcohol claims, or claims that involve falling down stairs and other drunken accidents?

The Dominion Post reported today that government agencies have recommended lowering driver blood alcohol limits. It’s looking for ‘real and enduring changes’ to tackle the effects of heavy drinking.

While I think this is a great idea (I personally don’t drink because of an allergy to alcohol), the quoted statistics are for road deaths involving drink or drugs and show an increase in deaths from 109 in 2006 to 128 in 2007. Hang on a minute – a reduction in the tolerance for drugs hasn’t been mentioned at all by the article, only alcohol.

So, perhaps the increase is all to do with drugs and maybe there’s a declining proportion of alcohol-related fatalities. Who knows? Certainly not the readers of the Dominion Post because (once again) failure to clarify a story has resulted in a report that’s not complete.

There are a few questions that haven’t been answered, including:

1) The figures that are quoted assume compliance with the law. How many people who will potentially kill themselves will actually care, and adhere to the law?

2) When you say that an accident was directly related to alcohol consumption, at what point is the cut-off? Is it just for people that are over the limit? In this case, if we reduce the limit, that could potentially increase the number of accidents that are deemed to be as a result of alcohol because there’ll be a larger sample of people who don’t care (who accidentally kill/injure themselves) who will now be counted as an alcohol-related statistic

3) If you take away the extreme cases and recidivist drunk drivers, how many are you left with?

The reporter did say that 2336 injuries were related to alcohol, and this costs the taxpayer $838 million, so any reduction in alcohol intake will be a welcome relief for this. The reporter goes on to say that a quarter of all ACC claims are alcohol-related – is that just motoring-related alcohol claims, or claims that involve falling down stairs and other drunken accidents?

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