The holidays are just around the corner, and New Zealand is well and truly into the season of Christmas parties, barbecues and other well-earned celebrations. Those celebrations are often marked with a few drinks, so this is also a time of year when drink-driving becomes a hot topic of conversation.
Last year New Zealand’s legal blood alcohol limit for adult drivers was lowered from 80 to 50mg per 100ml. Does this mean you’re more likely to be caught drink-driving this summer?
NZ Transport Agency Strategy Manager Lisa Rossiter says the answer is very simple – it’s up to you.
“If you choose to get behind the wheel after drinking too much alcohol, you need to take responsibility for the choice that you make and own the consequences of that decision. Those consequences can range from losing your driver licence to much worse. Drink-driving is a depressingly common contributing factor to deaths and serious injuries on our roads.
“The simple fact is that drinking alcohol affects your concentration, coordination, reflexes and judgment – and the more you drink the more all of those things are negatively affected,” Ms Rossiter says.
At the old limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood a driver is about sixteen times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as the same driver with a zero blood alcohol level.
“That’s why the law was changed last year to reduce the limit to 50mg, bringing New Zealand into line with many other developed countries which have similar or lower limits.
“The lower alcohol limit for driving is supported by a clear majority of New Zealanders, as well as by the Automobile Association, emergency room physicians and many others. The reason that most people support the lower limit is because they understand that the old limit was far too high and it allowed people to legally drive while they were impaired,” Ms Rossiter says.
New Zealand has had a zero alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20 since 2011, recognising the additional risks of youth and inexperience.
Ms Rossiter says the NZ Transport Agency/Police Know your limit television advertising campaign will run throughout the holidays to remind drivers that the legal limit for adults is now lower.
“When you’re behind the wheel these holidays you need total concentration, good coordination, rapid reflexes and the ability to make correct judgments and decisions. We don’t want anyone’s holiday marred by an avoidable tragedy, so please remember that the less you drink, the lower your blood alcohol concentration, and the less likely you are to crash.
“Deaths and serious injuries on our roads are not inevitable, and every one of us has the power to make good decisions which will keep the roads safer for everyone.”