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Unlike Joyce, Aussies committed to cutting road toll

3 December 2010

Media Statement

Unlike Joyce, Aussies committed to cutting road toll

While the National Government remains blindly wedded to a do-nothing policy on the blood-alcohol limit, the Australian Government is considering a 0.02 blood alcohol limit, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Darren Hughes.

“All National’s Transport Minister Steven Joyce will commit to doing in New Zealand is collecting more data over the next two years,” Darren Hughes said. “He’s playing irresponsibly with the lives of innocent Kiwis. Surveys show up to 40 percent of Kiwi drivers believe there is only a small chance they will be caught under our 0.08 limit.

“It’s a huge irony that last weekend Australian police began a joint holiday drink-driving blitz codenamed Operation Raid.

“Raid stands for Remove All Impaired Drivers,” Darren Hughes said.

“Well, if Australia follows Sweden and goes down the 0.02 route, even if only for drivers under 26, then Australia will be removing four times the number of impaired drivers from their roads that we are from our roads. It will be even more than that if Australia opts for zero tolerance, which is also being considered.

“How long will Australian police want to keep co-operating with New Zealand police on joint operations when our laws are so weak and make no sense?”

Darren Hughes said he accepted that research could throw up different results between countries.

“But there are constant factors, and one of them is that alcohol and driver safety don’t go hand-in-hand. As a general rule, the more you drink, the less capable you become as a driver. What part of this does Steven Joyce not understand?

“In Sweden the road toll fell 10 percent when the limit was cut from 0.05 to 0.02 for under-26s,” Darren Hughes said. “That gives some clue how many lives could be saved in New Zealand if we lowered the limit to 0.05 for all drivers. Last year road crashes involving alcohol killed 137 Kiwis and caused 565 serious injuries.

“If the blood alcohol limit was lowered from .08 to .05 of alcohol per 100ml of blood, it is certain that Kiwi drivers would perceive the risk of being caught as more than a small chance. And if Kiwis become more worried about drinking and driving, then our roads will become far safer,” Darren Hughes said.


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