Bullshit figures

The HoS reports:

The Government has blood on its hands for refusing to lower the drink-drive limit, a departing senior road policing boss says.

Superintendent John Kelly, who set up national highway patrols, retired on Thursday after six years overseeing the roads of Auckland’s sprawling Waitemata district and 35 years on the force.

He told the Herald on Sunday that John Key’s National Party ignoring calls for the drink-drive limit to be slashed two years ago was his biggest career frustration. He believed it had potentially contributed to more than 60 road deaths since.

“Between 250 and 300 people are still dying annually on the roads but if we had lowered the drink-drive limit when we could have, there might have been 30 or so of those people still alive every year,” said Kelly.

I’ll note the road toll has in fact been at record lows. I also note that “might have been” is hardly robust evidence. The Government is actually collecting data on the prevalence of people driving at between 80 and 100 blood alcohol level, and what their accident rate is. That way a decision can be made on rational analysis, not hysterical bullshit.

As it happens what we do know from the limited data we have, is that the number of adults who were drivers in fatal crashes with a BAC between 80 and 100 has been around 1 or 2 a year.

Of course lowering the BAC can reduce crashes. If you lower it to zero, that would reduce crashes. If you reduce the maximum speed limit to 30 km/hr that would reduce crashes. But road safety is about getting the balance right – and decisions should be based on hard data, not emotional blackmail.

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