So National are to kick lowering the legal blood-alcohol level into the long grass by having 2 years of “research”. This whilst telling us that the government spends too much on policy advice. Whilst that’s generally rubbish – and Blinglish’s suggestion that they can just google other governments’ research laughable – here is one case where it’s true.
There’s plenty of research on the effects of different limits, and of lowering it. But even better there are practical examples. It doesn’t take long to find that when Belgium dropped their driving blood-alcohol content (BAC) from 0.08% to 0.05% their number of road deaths dropped by 10% the first year and 11% more the next. When Japan dropped theirs from 0.05% to 0.03% driving fatalities dropped 38% in 5 years – and there are many more cases across Europe and elsewhere.
Dropping the BAC works. New Zealand is one of the few places in the world who haven’t dropped it from the high level of 0.08%, along with Malta, the UK and the US. Even John Key admits he couldn’t run the country, let alone drive, after 9 beers. Some of us would debate if he was doing much of a job of running it before he had any.
So why aren’t National doing anything about it? Is it because they don’t like the unpopular decisions? Surveys suggest that a significant majority support a limit where only 2 drinks could be had before driving (which would be a BAC closer to 0.03%).
Is is ideological, and fair of being the nanny state? One could imagine Act getting all high and mighty about personal liberties, but National pushed through the ban on mobiles whilst driving, which was too nanny state for Labour.
So is it that they’re scared of losing big donations from the alcohol companies? They’re large companies who know how to slosh the dosh. Despite making a show of being very concerned about how we’re drinking, National have already ruled out a rise in alcohol tax, despite it being by far the most effective way to reduce alcohol (over-)consumption. So they don’t seem at all keen to take these legal drug-pushers on. Maybe National, ever keen to establish themselves as the “party of business”, just don’t want to drag a successful business down – no matter what a mess its product might make of society.