asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will list all the initiatives taken by his Department since 1979 to reduce the incidence of drinking and driving; and if he will make a statement.
We have implemented, under the Transport Act 1981, new provisions to improve the effectiveness of the law on drinking and driving by providing for the introduction of evidential breath testing; closing various loopholes which allowed suspects to avoid prosecution on legal technicalities; and extending police powers to require a roadside breath test to those who have been driving or have been in charge of a vehicle. The measures came into force in May 1983.At the same time we introduced a new procedure to identify offenders suffering from a possible drinking problem. Under this drivers disqualified twice within 10 years at an alcohol level at least 2½ times above the legal limit cannot obtain a further driving licence until they have satisfied the Secretary of State that any drinking problem has been successfully treated.We have initiated a new, more sustained, approach to drinking and driving publicity with the aim of making people aware of the dangers throughout the year. In addition to annual campaigns over the Christmas and New Year period, last year saw the first ever spring-summer publicity focus. Drinking and driving is now given overriding priority within our publicity programme throughout the year.Last year we produced a leaflet "The Facts about Drinking and Driving". Over ¾ million copies have been distributed. A free road safety hot line (0800–234888) was also set up to provide help and advice on road safety matters, including drinking and driving. Over 6,000 calls have been handled on drinking and driving.We have developed an education package for teenagers entitled "One for the Road". The Brewers' Society has supported the package by producing three films on alcohol and driving. There has been widespread dissemination of the package through courses for teachers and road safety officers.Research is backing up all these initiatives. Accident figures show that since 1979 there as been a generally downward trend in the incidence of drinking and driving. There is also evidence of a greater awareness of the drinking and driving problem, and a hardening of attitudes against the drinking driver.Much more needs to be done. We must continue to try and change people's attitudes. We are getting good support from outside bodies.