Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Is this why the Government is moving on drink driving limits?

One tried and tested method by which the EU moves, and by which that movement is kept stealthy is that the Government announces an action, without mentioning that that action has either been demanded, requested or otherwise pre-ordained by the EU.

The whole palaver about light bulbs was a case in point, as are the HIPs certificates for the sale of properties.

I mention this because of this article over in the Parliament Magazine.

The European commission is considering recommending harmonised EU-wide laws on drink-driving limits, it has been revealed.
The Commission official involved makes various furry statements around the subject, but I just note the timing.

This survey carried out by Direct Line and Brake chimes in. Suspcious timing, you tell me. But again I note something in the press release,

More than half of drivers (55%) support Brake and Direct Line’s calls for a low limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml blood or lower, while a further 16% favour a limit of 50mg – the maximum limit recommended by the European Commission.

Following a change in Ireland’s laws from December 2009, Britain and Malta are the only remaining European countries with a drink-drive limit higher than the EU-recommended 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood. Increasing numbers of countries are setting a 20mg or zero-tolerance limit,
Following links this seems to come from something called the The North review of
drink and drug driving
law which is a Department for Transport funded study reporting at the end of the month.

It is all a little bit smelly though. It tells us it is independent, indeed it keeps telling us it is independent, indeed it says so three times in 6 lines on the home page of the website, even the URL says so.

Sir Peter North CBE QC is leading an independent review of the law on drink and drug driving. The Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis, has asked Sir Peter to examine possible changes to the legislative regime, reporting by the end of March 2010.

The North Review is completely independent of the Department for Transport and the Secretary of State for Transport. It will be a matter for Sir Peter how he proceeds; and he will act wholly independently in publishing his conclusions and advice.
But I note that simultaneous to the North Review comes this,

In parallel with the study, the Department for Transport is developing a full impact assessment, which will include an assessment of the costs of any proposed changes, including equipment costs and costs to the police and judicial system.
Intersting that impact assesments are already being done, indeed are essentially completed.
And then I note that the Brake press release has this,

Sir North is due to report to the Department for Transport by end March 2010. More details, including the official scope of the review and specific questions being asked by the inquiry team, are available at
The survey results are published in Fit to Drive? (Direct Line and Brake report no2) which surveyed 800 drivers.
Now it tells us that,

Drivers are also overwhelmingly in favour of a lower drink-drive limit, with more than 7 out of 10 (71%) agreeing that the current limit of 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood should be cut. Research indicates that someone driving with this much alcohol in their blood is five times more likely to crash than if they were driving without any alcohol in their system.
More than half of drivers (55%) support Brake and Direct Line’s calls for a low limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml blood or lower, while a further 16% favour a limit of 50mg – the maximum limit recommended by the European Commission.
So I go and look at the questions referenced in the North Review, and we have this,

1. Do you think that the current prescribed blood alcohol limit of 80mg/100ml
should be reduced to 50mg/100ml or less?
No mention at all of the 20mg level suggested by Brake. Indeed I wonder how many of the 800 drivers questioned knew what they were talking about. The questions about alcohol are pretty technical, and I just wonder what other information was offered at the time of the interview.

However, the bottom line is I can see no evidence whatsoever for Brake's headline claim.

So who are Brake? Where do they get their money? Look here,

How is Brake funded and is it a wealthy charity with large reserves?
Brake is funded by fundraising and donations from individuals, sponsorship by companies, and grants from private institutions and government. We also receive income from subscriptions and sales. We are a medium sized charity with an annual income ranging from between £650,000 and £1,000,000 (UK pounds). We have modest reserves of usually around six months’ running costs.
On the Charities Commission website it shows that more than 50% of their income is spent on salaries, and they do get tens of thousands of pounds every year from the Government. Go figure.

Looks like another Para-Governmental organisation, telling the Government what they want to hear.

1 comment:

Dick Puddlecote said...

Great stuff, Gawain. Yes, BRAKE is a fake charity with its own entry at ... unfortunately, the site is down at the mo.