ONE FOR THE ROAD

There is a tremendous amount of complete garbage spoken and written about drink driving, and recent research by University College London is no exception. In short, these bone headed researchers, with nothing better to do than spend their grant, have found that by reducing the limit of alcohol to blood from 80 mg, the present limit, to 50 mg, would prevent 65 road deaths and 230 injuries a year. How on earth can they possibly arrive at these findings? As I say, it’s complete garbage!

It’s as ridiculous as saying that three quarters of all road accidents happen within 5 miles of the drivers’ home. Of course they do, as three quarters of all drivers are only driving 5 miles from their home and back, usually to the shops, or better still the pub, where access is denied by non-existent public transport.

Back in the eighties, the government asked a panel of ‘experts’ to devise a system of alcohol consumption which could then be converted into ‘units’. That same panel was then asked to apply ‘units’ to a healthy or unhealthy lifestyle, so X units per week was fine, but X + 1 units was life threatening, and from these “back of a fag packet” calculations arose our drink driving laws. And guess what?!? When these experts were challenged about their system, they accepted it was totally arbitrary and had no real foundation in medical science. But this system has been elevated to Elysian proportions, so when I go to my doctor complaining of an ingrowing toenail, I’m cross examined about the number of ‘units’ of alcohol I consume, and how many cigars I smoke, and if I inhale! I’m here to tell you that at £10 a time, I’m going to inhale!

But back to drink driving. These same researchers go on to compare our drink drive laws unfavourably with those of Sweden and the Netherlands, where their limits are lower, and consequently, or so the theory goes, they have fewer road accidents. Have you ever visited these countries? I mean, let’s get real! Sweden is buried in snow half the year, so there’s nothing better to do than stay at home, get tanked up on schnapps and listen to Abba’s greatest hits all day and all night long. And the Netherlands? Boring, flat as a pancake, and once you’ve seen one tulip, you’ve seen them all!

Common sense, a rare commodity in government these days, comes from the lips of John Fitzpatrick, plucked by Gordon from obscurity to become road safety minister, a post beyond his wildest dreams and a stepping stone to high office. He says, and I quote: “We are not convinced that dropping [the limit] to 50 is the right answer. Drivers who are between 50 and 80mg are not the ones we are most worried about. It’s the ones over 100.” Amen to that!

English pubs, the bedrock of our society, are closing by the score on a weekly basis, blaming the combination of drink drive and anti smoking laws. The pub used to be the last refuge of the hen pecked husband, a chance for a chat in a relaxed atmosphere, and putting the world to rights over a pint of mine host’s old peculiar. Most sensible drinkers know their limit better than researchers from University College or panels of experts.

Of course drunken driving is inexcusable, the more so if it leads to death or serious injury, as happened to the professional footballer who now faces at least 4 years in prison. What a pointless waste of lives. But to tar all of us with the same brush is insulting, as it has no basis in medical science or any other reliable measure. Talking of measures, make mine a large one!

Published by

david

David is an English barrister, writer, public performer and keynote speaker. His full profile can be found on his website.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.