HoS on drink driving limits

December 9th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The editorial:

 New figures released by the Ministry of Transport are effectively that New Zealand research and confirm beyond doubt that the Government must act now to lower the blood-alcohol limit.

The data, released under the Official Information Act, reveals at least 20 people have been killed over the past four years in road accidents in which the driver had an alcohol reading of between 50mg and 80mg.

I don’t have the data they have under the OIA. But I suspect that the stat they quote includes drivers who are aged under 20 who already have a legal limit of 30 (now 0). The relevant stat is how many drivers who can legally drive at 50 to 80 mg blood alcohol have fatal crashes. Hence if you change the law (and assume that those drivers will obey the new law) how many fewer fatal crashes might there be.

Now again I don’t have the OIA data (but happy to be sent it), but we do have 2008 to 2010 data on the Transport website. The data for the number of drivers killed who were over 20 and had a blood alcohol level of 50 to 80 is three per year over those four years.

Now there is definitely a case to say three fewer fatal crashes per year is worthwhile – it is. But what we don’t know (and what the data is being collected for) is how many people drive at 50 to 80 blood alcohol and would be affected by a lower limit. Without solid data, how do we know whether the limit should be 50, 80, 30, 65? It is easy for media to portray an issue as simple and not complex – but I think it is the duty of Government to understand the impact of a proposed law change -how many drivers will be impacted by it, and what is the accident rate for driving at that level. If you don’t have data on the prevalence of driving at that BAC, you can not calculate the accident rate.

Tags: , ,

29 Responses to “HoS on drink driving limits”

  1. Redbaiter (8,009 comments) says:

    Just more self serving distortions from politically motivated “journolisters’..

    Here’s another exposé of their fabrications:

    http://www.straightstatistics.org/article/journalism-under-influence

    No objectivity in journalism these days. They’re all community crusaders.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    David

    I don’t always agree with you but I do on this issue.

    “The data, released under the Official Information Act, reveals at least 20 people have been killed over the past four years in road accidents in which the driver had an alcohol reading of between 50mg and 80mg.”

    This really tells us very little. Firstly, were those drivers responsble for the accidents? It is dishonest to blame a driver with 50mg of alcohol if the other driver (assuming there was one) crossed the centre line. Second, a lower alcohol threshhold may not necessarily have prevented those accidents, especially true if the drinking driver was not responsible for the accident.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    DPF,

    You raise a good point. While we can and should empathize with the people who have had there loved ones killed as a result of drunk driving, there is a need to prescribe the blood alcohol limit at a reasonable point to balance the risk vs the impact on society.

    The loss of a single life is, I am sure, sufficient reason for the family concerned to want to tighten laws that would have seen their loved one still alive. The question for government has to be whether the impact to the greater number of people is outweighed by the benefit to the fewer. Given that it is a life we are talking about, it is not as simple as a raw numbers assessment.

    So just where do you draw the line? If reducing the blood alcohol level to 50ml/l would save three lives a year and society deems that appropriate, then what is next?

    On average 10 cyclists die per annum on our roads. Three times the number of lives that would be saved by reducing the blood alcohol limit. Do we ban cycling?

    How many lives are lost each year with adventure sports pursuits? – the likes of bungy jumping, skydiving, white-water rafting, caving, climbing, tramping and others. Even skiing! Do we look to ban those also?

    I agree with your point that the question is more complex than the Herald seems to make out. More data and analysis is needed yet

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    The data, released under the Official Information Act, reveals at least 20 people have been killed over the past four years in road accidents in which the driver had an alcohol reading of between 50mg and 80mg.

    This proves nothing at all. Where is the EVIDENCE that alcohol caused the accidents?. People also have accidents when not drinking alcohol and 100% of them have been drinking water. Using the sort of logic quoted in the article, there is a much stronger case for banning water.

    The people behind this nonsense are prohibitionists and are not being honest about their real motives.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. flipper (3,836 comments) says:

    DPF, Ross69 and bhudson…. Good points all….

    Lies, damn lies and statistics !!!!!

    The SoH is simply continuing (attempting to rescusitate) its earlier failed campaign.

    The HoS has the deserved reputation of being the nadir of New Zealand journalism.

    If only there were a real system to take those fools to task.

    The best thing S.Joyce could do right now is to do a McCain on them.
    McCain’s demolition of the stupid US journo on Lybia was a sight/sound (He told the twit that his question suggesting Lybia was/is not important was just plain stupid) to behold – the worst he had experienced in public life!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. Redbaiter (8,009 comments) says:

    The whole approach to drink driving is completely wrong. And that’s because as with everything in this sad little fucked up commie hole, its done by socialist means.

    Campaigns that focus on such disgusting infringements upon civil liberties as suspicionless roadblocks. And insulting state funded propaganda and harrasment even of people who don’t drink.

    The way to deal with the problem is simple. Its enforce the law.

    But first you need to have effective laws.

    So you dismantle everything about the stinking overloaded bureaucratically fucked up current scheme and you stop the propaganda and you stop the roadblocks and all of that disgusting socialist shit. Its worthless anyway.

    You simply blood test anyone involved in a serious accident, and if there is alcohol in their bloodstream and it can be proved that alcohol was the cause of the accident, then they do jail time. Like years. With hard labour. And if they do it again they get double the sentence.

    If DUI is any kind of real threat to our society the problem would be completely solved in a few years of that kind of enforcement.

    All this fucking about and hand wringing is just socialist shit designed more to provide jobs for the boys and redistribute wealth to advertising agencies and govt agencies and socialist propaganda speiling TV networks than to solve the problem.

    Make laws that fit.

    Provide effective penalties.

    Enforce the laws and apply the penalties.

    EOS.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. JC (933 comments) says:

    Ditto most of the comments. In addition.. 30 years ago we had an annual death rate of around 1000.. now its way under 300 with far more vehicles on the road, that indicates we are doing something right and PDQ too.

    We are always going to struggle to get to European figures with our narrow, winding and steep roads, so at some point we will hit the 80:20 rule, ie, too much effort going into ever diminishing results.

    JC

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. eszett (2,367 comments) says:

    But I suspect that the stat they quote includes drivers who are aged under 20 who already have a legal limit of 30 (now 0). The relevant stat is how many drivers who can legally drive at 50 to 80 mg blood alcohol have fatal crashes.

    Actually it’s not. The relevant stat is how many crashes are done between 50 and 80, regardless of your legal limit.
    The question is are you fit to drive with a blood alcohol level between 50 and 80?
    And how many drinks do you have to have to actually reach that limit?

    I don’t see why NZ should be that different from other countries.

    David, why don’t you do an experiment. In a controlled environment reach blood alcohol levels of just under 80 mg and see if you are fit to drive and blog about it. As an influential blogger, I am sure you could arrange something like that.

    I would genuinely be curious about your findings.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. Kea (11,878 comments) says:

    The relevant stat is how many crashes are done between 50 and 80

    No it is not, unless you can PROVE that alcohol caused the event.

    The question is are you fit to drive with a blood alcohol level between 50 and 80?

    There is no “question”. We have an existing law that is working very well. Road deaths are at record lows. Of course you do not care about the facts, you simply want people to be controlled and forced to comply with your thinking.

    I honestly wonder what makes people like you “tick” !

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. Redbaiter (8,009 comments) says:

    “I don’t see why NZ should be that different from other countries.”

    Great argument.

    About what I would expect from you.

    Reason completely absent.

    I honestly wonder what makes people like you “tick” !

    Liberals- they’re totally psychologically fucked up.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. bhudson (4,736 comments) says:

    The relevant stat is how many crashes are done between 50 and 80, regardless of your legal limit.

    No, DPF’s point is valid. It is a distortion to include instance of drivers who are not legally allowed to drive at 50ml/l. They are already deemed less capable of driving at that level of blood alcohol, so them showing up in the stats serves no point other than to reinforce the current law for drivers of their age group.

    Unless you think that the discrimination today is simply ageist and that younger drivers are equally capable of driving a blood alcohol levels as older drivers. That is a wholly different question however.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. rg (200 comments) says:

    The Herald Editor makes the classic left wing mistake of assuming cause and effect where none has been established. This is repeated with links between poverty and abuse and CO2 levels and global warming.
    But because most road deaths involve people with no alcohol in their blood it means that based on the HOS editor’s logic it should be compulsory to drink before driving.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    Making laws isn’t as easy as you might think – what most people call law is simply legislated public policy.

    From the common law:

    Nihil quod est contra rationem est licitum. Nothing against reason is lawful.

    Nihil quod inconveniens est licitum est. Nothing inconvenient is lawful.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Michael (899 comments) says:

    If lowering the limit will prevent 20 deaths per year, can the HoS explain why there aren’t zero deaths involving drivers over the current limit?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    > based on the HOS editor’s logic it should be compulsory to drink before driving.

    Which begs the question: did the Herald editor have a tipple before penning their diatribe? If not, maybe they should have. :)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. ross69 (3,652 comments) says:

    The Herald also makes a fairly basic error in assuming that each driver killed with 50-80mg would have survived because they would have been under the legal limit. But there’s no reason to believe that all or any of those drivers would have altered their behaviour to accommodate the law. How many drivers continue to drive despite multiple convictions for drunk driving, or driving without a license, or driving while disqualified? The law means nothing to them.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. CharlieBrown (923 comments) says:

    How many people die on the road after the hours of10pm – now lets use the herald logic and say that we could preven X many deaths by banning driving after 10.

    Do the stats take into account whether they would have crashed anyway- how many people die every year on the road and how many of them happen when they had zero limit? The herald are a bunch of c&nts.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    How many drivers continue to drive despite multiple convictions for drunk driving, or driving without a license, or driving while disqualified? The law means nothing to them.

    Nothing against reason is lawful.
    People have the common law right to ordinary use of public roads (there is also the corresponding duty of care).
    To say that a licence is required for something that you already have a right to do is absurd, and cannot be lawful.

    People often confuse legislation with law. They’re not the same thing.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. tristanb (1,133 comments) says:

    It seems most of the fatal crashes that are reported on the news are people who have already been caught drink driving multiple times. These people usually have 2-3 times the limit.

    I don’t know the statistics, but surely we should actually be aiming to “guide” our idiot judges into proper sentences for the bad offenders rather than many more minor sentences for small infractions.

    But it often seem that those who condemn and want to criminalise someone for driving after a beer at Christmas dinner, are the same who’ll defend the alcoholic who wants to keep driving after the 34th conviction.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. Alan Wilkinson (1,848 comments) says:

    Herald editorials on road safety particularly are written by drivelling idiots incapable of rational analysis and only interested in emotive crusading. Probably completely useless and dangerous drivers as well.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Left Right and Centre (2,882 comments) says:

    mmhmmm…. the roads sure would be a lot safer if you just set a zero alcohol level for all folks driving around.

    And there would an awful lot less head-ons if you change the speed limit downwards to say 30km/h on local streets and keep it to a safe and steady 55km/h on the open road.

    Maybe introduce a little compulsory three minute refresher video to vehicles that runs down the main areas of road safety concern before you start each trip. Just think of it like the safety instructions at the start of a plane ride.

    How come cars aren’t sold with roll cages too? A car can still roll at 30kms, can’t it? And I don’t see any crash helmets. Well… blow me down… that might be a bit safer.

    I have to say that I was fuckin amazed by how much piss people can put away and still be under the limit.. seen it done on the 7pm sobbers and dobbers… 8 beers or something…or was it more than that even? I’m like… whaaaaat?? no way!!

    But they’ve got breath testers to see how close to the limit they are. If you had a tester you’d know where you stood… otherwise most people play it safe and don’t cut it that fine.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. screwBall (1 comment) says:

    What you have to remember is that for each person killed their are probably 20 whose bodies have survived mutilation by car accident. Emergency helicopters and advanced emergency medicine mean that more people are surviving than would have survived probably even twenty years ago. However many of those who survive will suffer intense pain and suffering for THE REST OF THEIR LIVES.
    I know its a hassle organising a driver or not having a one for the road, and I know some of you can’t relax with out alcohol. This is a minor inconvenience that will be over before the dawn. You will survive, get over it, many of those who survive these accidents will never get over it. The road is not your play ground, every one has the right to arrive home safe.
    The other problem is alcohol affects your ability to decide whether you are fit to drive or should stop drinking. The limit should be set to zero as it is with learner drivers. This seems to be remarkably successful. By the time I was my 18 I knew several kids my age or younger who had been killed in car accidents usually involving alcohol. My daughter is now 18 and as far as I know she has been spared that experience. The message is simple, if you don’t start drinking then it is much easier to stop before driving.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    the roads sure would be a lot safer if you just set a zero alcohol level for all folks driving around.

    The roads would be completely safe if you stopped people from exercising their right to use them.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Left Right and Centre (2,882 comments) says:

    TugmeRuth:

    It’s called sarcasm. That little ditty was sarcasmatastic. You didn’t at least suspect possible sarky snarkiness of a satirical lyrical nature? Doesn’t appear so. And you thought you were imparting wisdom to a genuine noddy comment. Another sad day for forums everywhere. Mind you, there’s one or two bloody noddy comments around the place so fair enough.

    And just for Uglytruth: ‘And let’s limit car engine ratings to no more than 1.0 litre… that would improve safety too’. That should catch everyone else who didn’t twig quickly that the safety part of comment was a sarcastic pisstake.

    Seriously… drink-driving used to be a national sport…. right behind cricket and rugby for playing numbers… you can’t have a zero alcohol limit. People would have no choice left but to play an actual sport. The suicide rate would spike quicker than you can say disco inferno at the local ‘you kark it, we park it.’

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. UglyTruth (4,551 comments) says:

    Fair enough. Distinguishing satire from the insanity of vehicle legislation obviously isn’t my strong suit.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. MikeG (412 comments) says:

    So on the same day that this post appears, Farrar tweets “I like having liquor companies for clients!”

    Conflict of interest maybe?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. mikenmild (11,246 comments) says:

    I can’t remember who came up with this idea; but if there was a razor-sharp spike fitted to the centre of each steering wheel, protruding about 50 centimetres towards the driver then I should expect a very positive effect on road safety.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. Australis (100 comments) says:

    Knowing that 3 of the drivers killed each year had a blood alcohol reading between 50 and 80 is a starting point.

    How many of those killed had readings between 20 and 50? How many were below 20? Were the 50-80 stats higher than the others?

    Does the evidence suggest that the numbers killed are directly proportional to the height of the readings? What is the shape of the curve?

    If the figure was 300, it would be easy to say that regulation is the answer. But it’s not so easy to say that the certain costs to hundreds of thousands of others are justified by the uncertain benefits for three.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. Ed Snack (1,794 comments) says:

    Wouldn’t one relevant figure be the accident rate for each group, that is what proportion of drivers with alcohol level x have fatal accidents ? And as I understand it, last time they did this, the accident rate for the zero level was highr than that for the next two levels. Assuming that to be correct (and I can’t be arsed looking it up), then drinking a smallish amount should be compulsory !

    But the key thing surely is to measure the relevant rates, otherwise the argument is meaningless. Only a significant excess rate would be grounds for any action.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.