Brake welcomes mandatory interlocks as key road safety measure

Road safety charity Brake is welcoming the government’s announcement that alcohol interlocks will be made mandatory for some drink-drive offenders, saying it is a key road safety measure.

In 2014, driver alcohol and/or drugs was a factor in 70 deaths and 422 serious injuries [1].

Caroline Perry, Brake’s NZ director says: “Drink-driving results in needless deaths and injuries on our roads every year, causing devastation to families and communities. Alcohol interlocks are proven to prevent drink-driving but until now haven’t been used widely with offenders. We’re extremely pleased to see the government taking this hard-line approach to drink-driving by repeat and high-level offenders, using a proven method to stop them from putting innocent lives at risk.”

However, the charity says we still need to go further to prevent people choosing to get behind the wheel after drinking, and to prevent re-offending through:

  • Zero tolerance drink-drive limit – even small amounts of alcohol affect your ability to drive safely. We need a zero tolerance limit of 20mg per 100ml of blood for all drivers, to make it clear it should be none for the road.
  • Police enforcement – ensuring Police have sufficient funding and resources to catch drink drivers and take them off the road.

Ms Perry says: “Interlocks are certainly a key tool in preventing re-offending, but there are other measures needed to put a stop to drink driving. Even one drink affects your reaction times and hazard perception. We need to do more to ensure that all drivers choose to drive sober.”

What are alcohol interlocks?
Alcohol interlocks are vehicle immobilisers that are activated if a driver is unable to pass a breath test. The driver is required to pass in order to start the engine. They can be linked to a camera to prevent drivers asking someone else to take the test for them.

Quick reference advice: drink driving

  • If you’re driving, pledge not to drink any amount of alcohol.
  • If you’re drinking, plan ahead so you have a safe way to get home afterwards.
  • Make sure you’ve completely got rid of any alcohol in your system before driving – many drink drivers are caught the next day, after a night out drinking.
  • Speak out to friends and family who are going to drink-drive and stop them from doing so.

Quick reference facts: drink driving

  • Drivers with 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [2].
  • Drivers with a BAC of 10mg/100ml, well below the NZ limit, are 46% more likely to be at-fault in a crash than sober drivers [3].
  • Alcohol is a depressant and even small amounts (such as a standard bottle of beer) affect your reaction times, judgment and co-ordination. It also makes you drowsy and affects your vision and how you judge speed and distance [4].

End notes:
[1] Alcohol and drugs crash facts, 2015, Ministry of Transport
[2] Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010
[3] Official blame for drivers with very low blood alcohol content, British Medical Journal, 2014
[4] How much alcohol can I drink before driving? NHS Choices, 2013

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