Debate on drink driving

Labour Highland and Island MSP David Stewart pushed for the introduction of a graduated licence scheme for young drivers during a debate recently.

The MSP who has spent years campaigning for driver safety said: “I have learned a lot about the tragedies that are involved in drink-driving and have spent a lot of time thinking about the solutions to that crucial aspect of driver safety.”

He continued: “As a Highlands and Islands road safety campaigner, I welcome any measures that will improve road safety and reduce fatalities and serious injuries as a result.

“It is tragic that every year, one in nine deaths on Scottish roads involves a driver who is over the drink-driving limit.

“Every year an average of 30 deaths on Scottish roads are caused by drivers who are over the legal limit.

“Many campaigning organisations, including Living Streets, which I think wrote to all members, have called for no alcohol consumption before driving, to end what I call the drivers Russian roulette...

“I firmly believe that we must continue to provide a series of measures to tackle a serious issue.

He added: “My campaign, sensible driving—always arriving, represents a chance to target drink-driving before it starts.

“It is targeted at new or young drivers and we are pushing for the introduction of a graduated licence scheme.

“Such a scheme would involve measures such as extending the test to cover night driving and driving on dual carriageways. It would include a period of observational driving and limit the number of passengers in the car.”

Meanwhile drink drive campaigner Dave Thompson SNP MSP Skye, Lochaber, and Badenoch has written to UK Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling to express his views on the necessity of Scotland receiving the fully devolved powers for drink driving.

Mr Thompson has also written to several Scottish organisations to generate support for his view that in order to fully tackle the problem of Drink Driving, the Scottish Parliament will require powers to introduce variable penalties and powers for police to randomly breathalyse drivers.

Commenting on this, Dave Thompson said: “I have long campaigned for lower drink driving limits, and I’m glad that the Scottish Government is consulting on lowering the limit from 80mg.

“However, I believe this is only one step in tackling the issue of drink driving. To really ensure a significant change the UK Government needs to devolve the full range of powers associated with drink driving to the Scottish Government.”

The Scotland Act 2012 gives the Scottish Government the ability to lower the limit on the level of alcohol permitted, but all other powers, including enforcement, setting penalties and other aspects of drink driving, remain with Westminster.