National Drunk at the Wheel

Written By: - Date published: 7:00 am, August 4th, 2010 - 30 comments
Categories: alcohol, transport - Tags:

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.

30 comments on “National Drunk at the Wheel”

  1. Gosman 1

    “This whilst telling us that the government spends too much on policy advice”

    Core Government spending exploded under the last Government. Some of this was related to the increase in spending in policy advice. Even Labour acknowledges this fact.I see no problem in reviewing the need for so many workers of this sort on the state payroll.

    • Draco T Bastard 1.1

      I don’t see a problem with reviewing it either as we probably need more. What I do have a problem with is cutting the number without a review which is, of course, exactly what NACT did.

  2. A key point is that policy advice is far too often designed to tell us what we all already know (at $850 an hour).

    One of the biggest wastes of policy money was Don Brash’s taskforce – an excellent example of knowing what he was going to say before he said it and even worse knowing what he was going to say wouldn’t couldn’t shouldn’t ever had made the light of day anyway.

    “By the time a man asks you for advice, he has generally made up his mind what he wants to do, and is looking for confirmation rather than counseling.” – Sidney J. Harris.

  3. Tigger 3

    National’s banned cell phones in cars without two years of research. But, of course, the cell phone lobby isn’t nearly as powerful as the alcohol industry…

    • Lanthanide 3.1

      Or possibly because the difference between cellphones or no cellphones is a lot more obvious than 0.08% or 0.05% on behaviour.

      • loota 3.1.1

        Yeah but people are still OK to eat burgers while they drive, keep their dog on their lap and do their make up?

        (Perhaps not all at the same time, nevertheless…)

        What’s with that?

        • Lanthanide

          I think if you had a dog in your lap, and a policeman spotted it, they’d probably pull you over and have a stern talking to. There is a difference between things being illegal and things being stupid. Not all stupid things need to be made illegal.

          • felix

            The police do have access to a few “catch-all” charges which basically amount to being a dick behind the wheel and which could probably be applied to things like doing make up, holding lapdogs, overly cumbersome eating etc if the cop considered it was hindering your ability to drive safely.

  4. tc 4

    I spy with my little eye some substantial alchohol interests hidden in those declared trusts that Sideshow’s and his NACT mates are so relaxed about…..blind drunk trusts.

  5. Joshua 5

    Actually they have lowered the limit to 0 for repeat offenders, which is the majority of the offences with that law, also they have limited the under 20 rule to 0 as well, so doing nothing is not correct. Now again with the National Banting, if you really believe Labour would of done it, why haven’t they when they were in power for 9years, they couldn’t of had anymore time to implement what they want, so no excuses there.

    Or do they need a national government to identify the issues for them so they can make a call?

    • Craig Glen Eden 5.1

      Joshua the whole why didn’t they do it before when they where in Government is a bullshit line and quite childish. I could equally say why didn’t National do it when they were in for the period that they were in Government before Labour! Politics is like life it continually moves forward as does time.
      Sooner or later National will have to take responsibility for their actions as will the people who were sucked in for voting for them. Of more interest why is National continuing implement such a poor financial plan when it failed last time they used it

      @ Lathanide the difference in behaviour between 0.5 and 0.8 is huge thats why other nations like Aussy have set their limit at 0.5.

      • Lanthanide 5.1.1

        I’m not denying that it is huge, but the difference between cellphone and no cellphone while driving is even more evident. Especially when there are many responsible people who would not drink and drive, but who still would use a cellphone while driving.

  6. Mark M 6

    You have stated National are afraid of losing big donations from alcohol companies
    Could you please advise how much all the parties have received in donations from these companies

    • loota 6.1

      And they’re afraid of alienating their corporate friends and losing invites to Business Round Table events.

    • Armchair Critic 6.2

      In National’s case it will be a matter of getting them to disclose the details of donations to the various trusts that are used to funnel money into the party, including the Waitemata Trust. Given that the purpose of the trusts is to hide the identities of National’s donors, and the amounts they contribute, I doubt you will find the answer to your question wrt National.
      The list of larger direct donations is available on-line. I think it is through the electoral commission, but since you asked the question, how about you do the google search?

      • Lanthanide 6.2.1

        If everyone knows what the purpose of the Waitemata Trust is, wouldn’t it surely no longer exist, and the Nat’s would be using some other trust that we don’t know the name of to carry out the same actions?

        • Armchair Critic

          Most people have never heard of the Waitemata Trust.
          Yes, I think National would use another trust if the Waitemata Trust became too much of a problem.

  7. randal 7

    so national has given in to the ‘special’ interests once again.
    they know that if they enact this legislation then they are out on their bums and if they dont then they are out anyway.
    all over a glass of beer.
    they have been blackmailed by the threat of all the pimply faced dweebs and it shows.

  8. Draco T Bastard 8

    So is it that they’re scared of losing big donations from the alcohol companies?

    Probably but how many of them own shares in booze production? We know Jonkey does through his not-so-blind trust. How many others would lose profits if the BAC was lowered?

    • sean14 8.1

      What’s your evidence that lowering the drink-drive limit will cut the profits of alcohol companies?

      • Draco T Bastard 8.1.1

        Something that you delusional RWNJs don’t understand – Basic logic.

        If people drink less at the pubs then the total volume of sales will go down reducing profits.

        • sean14

          Rubbish. It’s just convenient for you to believe that so you can have a (pathetic) go at the PM. As you tell us that lowering the drink-drive limit will save lives, accepting that it is therefore reasonable to assume that people will change their behaviour in order for that to happen.

          Perhaps people will make greater use of taxis or public transport, or maybe they’ll make use of a sober driver and then get even drunker because they’ll know they won’t be driving. Maybe they’ll just buy more booze from the supermarket and stay at home to get tanked. Maybe they’ll frequent an establishment they can walk to.

          P.S Why the need to go straight to the “delusional RWNJ” comment when asked a simple polite question? So much for the left being the side of principle and evidence-based argument.

  9. RobertM 9

    No, I think National made the right decision not to cut the alcohol tolerance level because Auckland is a big social city and the only way most people can get out to the pubs and clubs is to drive and many won;t have a non drinking accomplice availabe to go with them. For most people its quite impractical to go to the pub by bus. You’ve probably got your groceries and shopping with them and been at work. Most of all its simply too dangerous to wait at most Auckland bus stops after l0pm and much of the city has a very poor bus service.
    Low alcohol tolerance levels are probably more realistic in London, Berlin, Melbourne or Frisco they have superb public transport which a significant proportion of the population. Also those cities are cities for single or rich people or couples without children ,who probably mainly eat out . In Auckland if you put trams in the bus lanes you might have better public transport , make the retention of bus lane corridor viable and have the only way of viably affording an Albany – Airport rail line as light rail and have a public transport system that might make it fairer and more possible to reduce the alcohol limit by a quarter.
    People do not go out for one drink, they go out for half a dozen or a bottle of wine at least. Alcohol is the centre of all sexual life, socialising and company in New Zealand and psychiatrists like Marxist Doug Selman and that nut Dr Nut are well past there use by date and criminal in advocating skunk and estacy as preferably and safer than Alcohol. What Selman and Nut really object to is people having the right to self medicate and create their hapiness with alcohol outside of the control of psychaitrists and social scientist who want a Cuban style social worker police state to protect the ordianary people from themselves. The cruelty of the paternalism of psychaitrists is unbelievable. There is a strong arguement that almost all drugs should be on sale to anybody over 18 at the pharmacy, Herbs, pot, Risperidine, Olanzapine, Prozac, Coldrex, Cocaine, Amstel Light, Bacardi, St Johns Wort, etc.

  10. Joshua 10

    Craig – Still doesn’t explain the fact that apparently according to this article nothing happened when it did, as with the why they didn’t do it before being called childish, you say that as in their nine years they achieved bugger all, it took them the whole 3 years of one of their terms to make a policy change.

    With lowering the limit, if I remember rightly, I might be wrong, so do correct me, the last time national were in parliament they did lower the limit to a certain extent.

    Don’t get me wrong, I agree with lowering the limit, I’m just saying National and Labour are not prepared to do it, not just the one party.

    Armchair Critic – It’s not actually Mark who should be finding the fact, as he was not making the statement without any sufficient information to back it up. Whoever made that statement now needs to find the fact to back-up. Unless you are just assuming, kind of makes your whole argument irrelevant though doesn’t it.

  11. Armchair Critic 11

    It’s not actually Mark who should be finding the fact
    Oh, right, so it’s the responsibility of authors at the site and anyone who comments here to do searches whenever someone wants to know something? Fuck off – I’ve no sympathy for anyone come here complaining that they can’t find something without at least trying to find out for themselves. There’s a word for that, it’s called lazy. Given that you claim to be an engineer, I’m surprised you would favour laziness. Do you work for NZTA, or one of their pet consultants, perhaps?
    Whoever made that statement now needs to find the fact to back-up.
    The closest I can see to a statement is in the post itself, where the author (Bunji) asks:
    So is it that they’re scared of losing big donations from the alcohol companies?
    You’ll note that this is a question, rather than a statement. It’s a point for discussion, rather than an assertion of fact.
    Unless you are just assuming…
    Well, yes and no. I’m forced to assume, because the whole point of the Waitemata Trust was to hide the identities of National’s donors, and how much they donated. But I don’t need to assume that Waitemata Trust has donated a hell of a lot of money to the National Party, it’s a matter of public record and if you care to do a search you can confirm it for yourself. If you are too lazy, here’s a cut and paste from the first article I came across when I did a search myself.
    [In the 2005] election 90% of National’s funding, or $2 million of $2.2m, was funnelled through secret trusts or donated anonymously. In comparison 30% of Labour’s funding, or $400,000 of $1.3m, came through such sources…
    The biggest of National’s fronts for campaign fundings is the Waitemata Trust, which last election pumped $1.4m of donations into the party’s coffers.

    Which is a reasonable explanation of why the general public can not know how much the liquor industry donate to National.
    …kind of makes your whole argument irrelevant though doesn’t it.

  12. Ed 12

    Some of the comments seem to imply that decisions have already been implemented – as far as I understand it they have not; it is not clear whether they will go through the select committee process.

    It is all very well for Key to say that he couldn’t run the country, let alone drive, after 9 beers. Perhaps it is some of his MP’s he is concerned about who may be unable to function without the equivalent of 9 beers (minibar anyone?)

  13. BLiP 13

    Why not just make the level 0? Why all this fucking around? Silly me thought sharing a bottle of wine over a couple of hours, then having a feed, and then walking about half a mile back to the car would never have resulted in a “failed screening”. With the benefit of hindsight and as someone who had to learn the hard way, I would never have had a drink in the first place. Its been more than 10 years since my experience but even now, if I’m driving, I’m on the lolly juice or coffee. Its no big deal and if I schmooze the bar staff I usually get my drinks for free.

    • Armchair Critic 13.1

      Why not just make the level 0?
      Because then John Key would have to admit that he can’t run the country after drinking one beer?

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