Will smart cars stop us drink-driving?

Drink-driving remains a serious problem in the UK. Convictions are at their highest in June – country pubs, light evenings – but there is another peak around the festive season. don't drink and drive It’s not only those who drive home after a session, it’s those who are still over the limit the morning after. If you’ve been partying till well into the small hours, it could be the afternoon before you’re fit to get behind the wheel.

Death tally

Some 230 people died as a result of accidents involving drunk drivers in 2012 – the latest year for which statistics are available. Hundreds more were injured. These numbers are lower than previously, but they still represent a horrific toll. And it seems that British motorists who do not get behind the wheel after a few drinks have had enough of those who do.

Lower limit

Three quarters of UK motorists would like to see a lower drink-drive limit introduced while a massive 84% support alcohol immobilisers. These are designed to prevent vehicles moving if sensors detect the driver is over the limit. So even if you’re reckless and selfish enough to want to drink and drive, your car would be smart enough not to let you. drink driving

Scotland the brave

Let’s investigate how these measures could help to rid our roads of drunk drivers once and for all. Earlier this month, the drink-drive limit in Scotland was cut back to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (50mg/100ml) compared to 80mg/100ml in England and Wales. This brings Scotland into line with most of the EU. And UK motorists want the rest of the country to follow suit. That’s what road safety charity Brake found when it surveyed 1,000 drivers, 43% of whom said that UK should enforce the even lower limit of 20mg/100ml already in place in countries such as Sweden. Brake believes lowering the limit to this level would help to prevent accidental drink-driving among people who have a glass or two before hitting the road.

Confusing message

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive of Brake, said: "The current drink drive limit in England and Wales sends a confusing message and asks drivers to do the impossible – guess when they are under the limit, and guess when they are safe to drive.” http://moneysupermarket-3.wistia.com/medias/w0syj05i36?embedType=seo&videoFoam=true&videoWidth=600 Separate research from insurer Direct Line indicates that it might have a point – particularly when it comes to women drivers. The number of drink-driving convictions handed out to women almost doubled from 9% in 1998 to 17% in 2012, according to the research. But as many as 60% of the women polled said they did not know the legal limit and only drove after drinking if they felt physically "okay" to drive.

Alcohol immobilisers

Using technology to immobilise vehicles if sensors detect that the driver is over the legal limit would be another way of enforcing a zero tolerance policy on alcohol at the wheel. And it would seem that the majority of motorists are in favour of such a step. A recent motoring safety innovations survey by National Windscreens revealed that almost 84% of UK drivers support the use of alcohol immobilisers.

Cheaper insurance?

What’s more, 66% would have the technology installed when buying a new vehicle if it meant benefiting from lower insurance premiums. National Windscreens’ Pete Marsden said: “These results clearly demonstrate the high level of support for innovation designed to minimise drink driving.” Until you have a car fitted with this safety feature, however, the safest option is to avoid drinking at all if you know you will be driving. "Even very small amounts of alcohol impair driving, so the only safe choice is not to drink at all before driving,” Townsend said.

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