Traffic safety commission wants drink driving limit lowered

The drink driving limit change comes as part of the commission’s plan to reduce traffic deaths to 120 people a year by 2020

The traffic safety commission, Færdselssikkerhedskommissionen, proposed on Monday to reduce the blood alcohol content drink driving levels from 0.05 to 0.02.

“I’ll accept this proposition with pleasure. It is something that Radikale will definitely support,” Jeppe Mikkelsen, Radikale (R) spokesperson and a member of the commission, told Altinget news service. “This will send a clear message that it is not okay to drink and drive.”

Left-wing party Enhedslisten (EL) also commended the proposal, even if it was slightly unambitious for their taste.

“Of course it is a step in the right direction, but we’d rather see the alcohol limit reduced to zero,” Henning Hyllested, EL's traffic spokesperson, told DR News. “We know drink driving is very dangerous, even if you’ve had just one drink.”

But the commission’s recommendations regarding drink driving levels were not uniformly welcomed.

Venstre (V) and Dansk Folkeparti (DF) are against the idea of lowering the limit while Socialdemokraterne (S) and Konservative (K) want to see clear documentation to substantiate claims that lowering blood alcohol content levels for drink driving will help reduce accidents.

“It’s a hardened core of people who break the limit rules and they will do it whatever the limits are. It is these people they should go after instead of affecting normal Danes who are sensible with alcohol,” Rasmus Prehn (S) told Altinget news service. “I need really strong argumentation before I’ll consider lowering the limits but, naturally I’ll be willing to discuss it if there is evidence that suggests it saves lives.”

The proposition comes as part of Færdselssikkerhedskommissionen's 2020 target report which includes three main goals:

– A maximum of 120 people killed in the traffic.

– A maximum of 1,000 seriously injured.

– A maximum of 1,000 slightly injured.

In 2012, 175 people died in traffic accidents, the lowest number since 1941. This makes Denmark one of the countries in the world with the lowest number of traffic-related deaths per capita. Some 28 percent of all traffic deaths are solo accidents, many of them occurring in rural areas. Bicyclists account for 12 percent of traffic deaths, moped drivers five percent and pedestrians 16 percent.

One of the commission's goals is to get more Danes to wear helmets when in traffic. Some 40 percent of the people killed while riding bicycles, motorcycles or mopeds where not wearing helmets at the time of their accidents.

According to figures compiled by the commission, personal injuries sustained traffic accidents costs society around 2.5 billion kroner every year.

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