The report ‘Progress In Reducing Drink Driving In Europe’ from the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) published in February, provides an updated overview of the drink driving situation in Europe, covering 32 countries: the 28 member states of the European Union together with Israel, Norway, the Republic of Serbia and Switzerland. It looks at country progress in reducing road deaths attributed to drink driving over the past decade. The report highlights specific legislation and enforcement measures from across Europe. A range of recommendations concerning further improvements in tackling drink driving are made to Member States and the EU institutions.
The ETSC highlights the progress made by EU countries including Estonia, Latvia and Denmark where deaths attributed to drink-driving have been dropping faster than other road deaths. In Estonia, drink-driving deaths dropped by 90% over the last decade thanks in part to the highest level of alcohol roadside breath tests in the EU and introduction of a near zero tolerance (0.2 g/l) Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) limit for all drivers.
The report recommends that Member States • Allow for the testing of drink driving in all police roadside checks and introduce roadside evidential breath testing procedures; • Consider adopting a zero tolerance level for drink driving (i.e. a maximum BAC of 0.2g/l); • Intensify enforcement of drink driving laws by setting targets for minimum levels of alcohol checks of the motorist population, e.g. 1 in 5 motorists should be checked each year and couple enforcement with publicity activities; • Develop use of alcohol interlocks as part of the rehabilitation programmes for first time high-level and recidivists offenders; • Mandate the use of alcohol interlocks for repeat offenders and professional drivers; • Collect the annual number of drink driving checks and those which were positive; • Organise regular nationwide campaigns to raise the public’s understanding that drinking and driving is very dangerous. The report also recommends that EU institutions • Include best practice guidelines on drink driving enforcement and sanctions to encourage Member States to achieve high standards on enforcement methods and practices and a greater convergence of road-safety-related road traffic rules, building on the EC Recommendation on Enforcement in the field of Road Safety; • Mandate the CENELEC standards for alcohol interlocks in Europe which ensure that vehicle interfaces make it possible to fit an alcohol interlock; • As a first step towards wider use of alcohol interlocks, legislate their use for repeat offenders and professional drivers. Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of ETSC said: “High levels of enforcement are critical to solving Europe’s drink-driving problem. And for those drivers who carry on getting behind the wheel after drinking, despite checks and sanctions, alcohol interlocks are an important and effective way of getting people rehabilitated... It’s also crucial that drivers entrusted with professional vehicles carrying goods or passengers must never be allowed to get behind the wheel when they are over the limit. Many fleets across Europe are already using interlock devices, it’s time they were made a standard feature.” In a review of vehicle safety regulation by the European Commission expected in May 2018, ETSC will be calling for a standard electronic interface to be fitted to all new cars to make installation of an interlock easier when required by law.