Booze claims 1500 lives on roads in decade

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 23/08/2014

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More than 1500 people have died and another 6700 have sustained serious injuries in alcohol-related crashes on New Zealand roads in the past decade, the NZ Transport Agency says.

Spokesman Andy Knackstedt said drink driving had a devastating impact on families and communities, but significant progress has been made in the past 30 years towards reducing drink-driving crashes.

Despite this, it remained a significant road safety issue, with alcohol and drug-impaired driving contributing to one third of all road deaths every year.

Alcohol impaired people in many ways, It could slow reaction time, decrease vision and increase risk-taking, Knackstedt said.

The fight goes on to stop people from drinking and driving.

Last month legislation was passed which will lower the legal blood alcohol limit from 80 to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood for drivers aged 20 and over. The new limits come into force from December 1 this year.

The change sends a clear message to people willing to put themselves and others at risk by driving drunk, Knackstedt said.

Other recent changes include the introduction of a zero-alcohol limits for teens and new penalties, including alcohol interlocks and zero-alcohol licences for serious and repeat drink-driving offenders.

Reducing deaths and serious injuries from drink-driving was a key plank of the Safer Journeys strategy, which looked across the entire road system to improve safety by creating safer roads and roadsides, safer speeds, safer vehicles and safer road use, Knackstedt said.

A safe system also spread the responsibility of sober driving beyond the drivers them- selves.

The Transport Agency's road safety advertising campaign aimed to show that influencing a situation could have a positive effect on others when it came to drink-driving.

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