The recent tragedy of the deaths of children killed while walking on a footpath in Oatlands, NSW, should cause us to pause and reflect whether there is more that we can and should be doing to prevent crashes where alcohol consumption by the driver may be a factor.
Australia was the first country in the world to enact and enforce mandatory roadside testing for alcohol on the breath of the driver in 1976. Learner, P-plater and commercial drivers are legally obligated to drive with a zero blood alcohol concentration in every jurisdiction in Australia. We have progressively reduced our legal Blood Alcohol Concentration limit from 0.08 to 0.05 for drivers.
Mandatory, immediate licence disqualification following low threshold breach, and mandatory alcohol interlock requirement subsequently are appropriate penalties. Norway, with its 0.02 blood alcohol concentration limit, effective enforcement and penalties, has crash, death and serious injury rates far lower than Australia.
Compelling evidence shows that lower alcohol limits, effective enforcement and appropriate penalties save lives.
Dr John Crozier
Chair of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Trauma Committee