Thursday, May 18, 2006


Thursday Thoughts: Zero tolerance

Go further, Minister The spiralling number of deaths on our roads is a major problem in this country right now, and one I have commented on quite a bit here on United Irelander, and while I welcome today's proposal by the Minister for Transport to tackle the problem, I don't think he's going far enough.

Today Minister for Transport Martin Cullen said he wanted to introduce a zero alcohol limit...but only for first-time drivers.

Provisional drivers and young drivers would be on lower-level licenses, preventing them from drinking any alcohol before driving. The Minister said the zero alcohol limit would likely operate for three years, but he was going to refer the issue to the Road Safety Authority to see what would be best.

Minister Cullen was speaking at a conference of European transport ministers being held in Dublin. He added that the system is already operating in Australia and aims to give new drivers good habits:

"It’s an idea I’d like to adopt here. I obviously have to look at the legal implications of how we might do it."

I welcome a zero alcohol limit. My problem is, why only a zero alcohol limit for first-time drivers? God forbid we get to a stage where people who have been driving for over three years then decide that they are now able to handle drinking and driving.

We should aim to have a zero alcohol limit for ALL drivers.

I've been checking other European countries to see what their alcohol limit levels are. In France and Spain it's illegal to have a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) greater than 0.05%, in Sweden and Norway it's illegal to be greater than 0.02%. In Ireland and the UK, it's only illegal to have a blood alcohol concentration greater than 0.08%. Why are we lagging behind?

I say it's time we here in Ireland show an example, as we did with the smoking ban, by banning ALL Irish drivers from drinking and driving. Let's have a zero alcohol limit for everybody.

Lives would be saved. And that's all that matters.


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