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The New Zealand Government recently announced (26 July 2010) that it will decide "...whether or not to lower the legal blood alcohol limit after conducting New Zealand-specific research on the level of risk posed by drivers with a blood alcohol limit of between 0.05 and 0.08." This research will be carried out over a period of 2 years" beginning after a law change due to be implemented by early next year.1If the results of any New Zealand-specific research indicate lives will be saved by lowering the blood alcohol concentration (BAC), then the current limit could presumably be lowered shortly afterwards. Thus, a change in the law regarding BAC could be seen in around 3 years.This would seem like a considered rather than a knee-jerk response, were it not for the fact that in the NZ Ministry of Transport's 2009 discussion document ‘Safer Journeys' it was stated that "New Zealand and international research has consistently demonstrated the benefits associated with BAC levels of 0.05, or lower, in saving lives and preventing serious injuries—analysis suggests that we would see similar improvements here if we lowered the BAC to 0.05. It is estimated that between 15 and 33 lives could be saved and 320 to 686 injuries prevented every year. This corresponds to between $111 million and $238 million."2Given that consistent evidence already suggests lives may be saved and that the potential costs of wrongly doing nothing (failing to lower the BAC when so doing may save upwards of 40 lives over the next 3 years) appear to far outweigh the potential costs of wrongly doing something (lowering the BAC when so doing will not lower the number of alcohol related road deaths), it is hard to understand why the legal BAC will not be lowered at the earliest possible opportunity.By failing to take into account the relative costs of the two ways in which their decision may be wrong, New Zealand may have missed a golden opportunity to save lives by failing to lower the BAC at the same time as other changes are made to laws regarding recidivist drink drivers and drivers under the age of 20 years. Andrew Gilbey Palmerston North Jose Perezgonzalez Palmerston North

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Andrew Gilbey, Palmerston North, Jose Perezgonzalez, Palmerston North

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

- Joyce, S. Tackling New Zealands drink driving problem. 26 July 2010.http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/tackling+new+zealand%e2%80%99s+drink+driving+problem-- Ministry of Transport. Discussion Document: Have your say on our next road safety strategy. August 2009.http://www.transport.govt.nz/saferjourneys/Documents/SaferJourneysfull_web.pdf-

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The New Zealand Government recently announced (26 July 2010) that it will decide "...whether or not to lower the legal blood alcohol limit after conducting New Zealand-specific research on the level of risk posed by drivers with a blood alcohol limit of between 0.05 and 0.08." This research will be carried out over a period of 2 years" beginning after a law change due to be implemented by early next year.1If the results of any New Zealand-specific research indicate lives will be saved by lowering the blood alcohol concentration (BAC), then the current limit could presumably be lowered shortly afterwards. Thus, a change in the law regarding BAC could be seen in around 3 years.This would seem like a considered rather than a knee-jerk response, were it not for the fact that in the NZ Ministry of Transport's 2009 discussion document ‘Safer Journeys' it was stated that "New Zealand and international research has consistently demonstrated the benefits associated with BAC levels of 0.05, or lower, in saving lives and preventing serious injuries—analysis suggests that we would see similar improvements here if we lowered the BAC to 0.05. It is estimated that between 15 and 33 lives could be saved and 320 to 686 injuries prevented every year. This corresponds to between $111 million and $238 million."2Given that consistent evidence already suggests lives may be saved and that the potential costs of wrongly doing nothing (failing to lower the BAC when so doing may save upwards of 40 lives over the next 3 years) appear to far outweigh the potential costs of wrongly doing something (lowering the BAC when so doing will not lower the number of alcohol related road deaths), it is hard to understand why the legal BAC will not be lowered at the earliest possible opportunity.By failing to take into account the relative costs of the two ways in which their decision may be wrong, New Zealand may have missed a golden opportunity to save lives by failing to lower the BAC at the same time as other changes are made to laws regarding recidivist drink drivers and drivers under the age of 20 years. Andrew Gilbey Palmerston North Jose Perezgonzalez Palmerston North

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Andrew Gilbey, Palmerston North, Jose Perezgonzalez, Palmerston North

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

- Joyce, S. Tackling New Zealands drink driving problem. 26 July 2010.http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/tackling+new+zealand%e2%80%99s+drink+driving+problem-- Ministry of Transport. Discussion Document: Have your say on our next road safety strategy. August 2009.http://www.transport.govt.nz/saferjourneys/Documents/SaferJourneysfull_web.pdf-

For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

The New Zealand Government recently announced (26 July 2010) that it will decide "...whether or not to lower the legal blood alcohol limit after conducting New Zealand-specific research on the level of risk posed by drivers with a blood alcohol limit of between 0.05 and 0.08." This research will be carried out over a period of 2 years" beginning after a law change due to be implemented by early next year.1If the results of any New Zealand-specific research indicate lives will be saved by lowering the blood alcohol concentration (BAC), then the current limit could presumably be lowered shortly afterwards. Thus, a change in the law regarding BAC could be seen in around 3 years.This would seem like a considered rather than a knee-jerk response, were it not for the fact that in the NZ Ministry of Transport's 2009 discussion document ‘Safer Journeys' it was stated that "New Zealand and international research has consistently demonstrated the benefits associated with BAC levels of 0.05, or lower, in saving lives and preventing serious injuries—analysis suggests that we would see similar improvements here if we lowered the BAC to 0.05. It is estimated that between 15 and 33 lives could be saved and 320 to 686 injuries prevented every year. This corresponds to between $111 million and $238 million."2Given that consistent evidence already suggests lives may be saved and that the potential costs of wrongly doing nothing (failing to lower the BAC when so doing may save upwards of 40 lives over the next 3 years) appear to far outweigh the potential costs of wrongly doing something (lowering the BAC when so doing will not lower the number of alcohol related road deaths), it is hard to understand why the legal BAC will not be lowered at the earliest possible opportunity.By failing to take into account the relative costs of the two ways in which their decision may be wrong, New Zealand may have missed a golden opportunity to save lives by failing to lower the BAC at the same time as other changes are made to laws regarding recidivist drink drivers and drivers under the age of 20 years. Andrew Gilbey Palmerston North Jose Perezgonzalez Palmerston North

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Andrew Gilbey, Palmerston North, Jose Perezgonzalez, Palmerston North

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

- Joyce, S. Tackling New Zealands drink driving problem. 26 July 2010.http://www.beehive.govt.nz/release/tackling+new+zealand%e2%80%99s+drink+driving+problem-- Ministry of Transport. Discussion Document: Have your say on our next road safety strategy. August 2009.http://www.transport.govt.nz/saferjourneys/Documents/SaferJourneysfull_web.pdf-

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