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RAC Editorial

Could breathalysers become a legal requirement in the UK?

20 Feb 2012 at 13:42

Drivers travelling to France from the 1 July this year will now have to carry a breathalyser kit in their car following new legislation introduced in the country.

France is something of a pioneer in introducing increasing road safety measures, including the requirement to have a high-visibility vest and replacement light bulbs in your vehicle at all times.

But with the introduction of the latest rules for self-breathalysing kits, could it be a preview of a traffic law introduced in the UK?

The new rule to have a self-testing kit in the car has been brought in to reduce the number of alcohol-related accidents on French roads.

With a legal blood alcohol limit of 50mg per 100ml of blood – by comparison the UK limit stands at 80mg per 100ml – French motorists have stricter rules to obey and will therefore benefit from the ability to self test.

IAM Director of Policy and Research, Neil Greig said: “The new French rule is a genuine attempt to reduce the number of alcohol related-accidents. France’s lower limit means it’s very easy to be over the limit the morning after as well.”

If the initiative is successful and a drop in alcohol-related incidents is observed, the programme could be adopted by the UK to curb the number of collisions and fatalities as a result of driving under the influence.

A unit costs between one and two pounds and would prove useful for motorists hovering around the drink-drive limit in making a decision to leave their car and call a taxi.

Granted, implementing legislation in the UK wouldn’t stop the careless motorists with a wanton disregard for their and other road user’s safety, but it would certainly have an impact.

The “I’ve only had two drinks” excuse could be banished forever with a definitive yes or no answer of whether someone is fit to drive with compulsory personal breathalysing kits.

Motorists may bemoan the extra expense of having to have one in a vehicle by law, but if such a programme could also possibly reduce the cost of motoring such as insurance premiums, surely we should welcome the scheme in the UK?

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