8 Med. Sci. & L. 1 (1968)

handle is hein.journals/mdsclw8 and id is 1 raw text is: 


MEDICINE

                          SCIENCE

                                               and the LAW

   Vol.   8                      January 1968                       No.   i


                             EDITORIAL

THE  Road  Safety Act  1967 came  into force on October 9, 1967. and published
figures of road injuries and deaths have since then shown a marked decrease. To
this, great publicity has been given, which clearly indicates the general policy
of the Minister of Transport.
   Those  who have been associated with the problems of road accidents and drink-
ing fully agree with the principles of administration of the new law. It has been clear
for a long time that if legislation had to be applied, then a fixed amount of alcohol
in the blood, above which it is an offence to drive or be in charge of a car, is the
only  satisfactory scientific method to prove the offence. The latest statistical
information of the  results of the new law must  indicate that the reduction in
accidents is due to the fact that people are drinking less, driving less, or are doing
both less. Certain other matters must, however, be seriously considered in relation
to these figures for the public to benefit from the large financial expenditure
involved. First, whether the policy is to be generally directed to reduction in
alcoholic consumption and, if so. where the loss of revenue so produced will be
made  up. Secondly, whether some form of social effort to combat alcoholism should
be combined  with the penalties for the offence, and, thirdly, whether there may
come  a time when  it would be proper for some indication to be given as to the
minimum   quantity and conditions of alcoholic intake which will produce a figure
of 80 mg. per cent. of alcohol in the blood. Intensive propaganda will always have
an immediate  impact, but this is usually found to slacken off after a time; in such
an  event the rate of slackening may  well be reduced  by explaining the exact
position to those capable of appreciating it. Nobody can possibly support those
who  attempt to defeat the objects of the legislation by advocating special food
or worse  still  pills  to beat the breathalyser. Nor can any scientific basis be
found for the sale of breathalysers to the public for a person to check whether he
is  safe  to drive. Apart from the fact that the amount of alcohol in the breath
may  well increase in a few minutes if absorption is still taking place, and hence
the  test  gives false confidence, it is a complete contradiction of the facts to talk
                                       I
                                                                 M.S.L.-l

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