Simon Spillane / Director Communications and Public Affairs.
Brewers’ partnership on drink driving paying dividends
In the last decade significant progress has been made in reducing the number of deaths from drink driving. At the beginning of the century there were an estimated 12,500 alcohol-attributable deaths in road traffic in the EU but since then this number has decreased on average by around 5.7% each year(1).
Despite these positive figures, alcohol remains a major risk factor on the roads. Drink driving is still one of biggest causes of death on Europe’s roads. Taking just one year, the European Transport Safety Council estimated that as many as 6,500 deaths could have been prevented if all drivers had obeyed the laws on drink driving(2).
At The Brewers of Europe, we are taking pioneering steps through our partnership approach to ensure a sustained decrease of alcohol attributable deaths. We believe that cooperation is needed across the range of public and private stakeholders, including the road safety community, police, NGOs, regulators, the drinks industry and others.
Joint efforts must continue to ensure continuous and sustained decreases in drink driving fatalities and to help the EU achieve its target of halving the overall number of road deaths from 2011 to 2020.
The SMART project
Over the last two years The Brewers of Europe has been engaged in a partnership with the EU-wide NGO European Transport and Safety Council (ETSC), which involves The Brewers providing support and funding to the ETSC’s SMART project (Sober Mobility across Road Transport).
The objective of SMART, which is one of the commitments filed under the European Alcohol and Health Forum, is to address the main issues related to alcohol and driving and to support the ETSC’s advocacy activities both at EU and Member State level to tackle drink driving. It delivers guidelines, best practices, dialogue at national level and engages interested stakeholders, including through high-profile EU and national events. It builds on decades of awareness raising on drink driving by Europe’s brewers through our partnerships at local, national and EU level.
Since its inception, SMART events have already taken place in Brussels and around Europe including Rome, Madrid, Prague, and more recently this week’s event in London.
An effective approach to reducing drink driving requires the correct combination of legislation, enforcement, sanctions, rehabilitation, technology, education and societal engagement. All events have thus involved experts including MEPs, the European Commission, national Ministries, law enforcement bodies, and members of The Brewers of Europe.
A number of concrete case studies have emerged in the framework of the partnership including the following two examples.
The first, from Sweden, involved drivers being automatically tested for alcohol at the port of Gothenburg when driving off the ferry, using a so-called “alco-gate”(3). Each driver has to blow into a breathalyser before starting their journey. If found to be over the limit, they cannot continue. On average 1 out of every 2,150 truck drivers was found to be driving under the influence of alcohol and 1 out of every 327 drivers of passenger cars. The initiative was widely supported by the drivers tested (86%) and will be rolled out more widely in Sweden.
A second project involves installing alcohol interlocks on each Arriva bus in Denmark. If drivers are found to be over the limit, they cannot start the engine. As a result of this project, in the last five years there has been no record of any collision involving bus drivers under the influence of alcohol.
The current three-year SMART programme runs until end 2016 at which time key insights and learnings will be reported upon. The Brewers will continue to work with the ETSC and all other stakeholders in the meantime to come up with new and innovative ways of reducing drink driving, thereby further lowering the number of casualties on Europe’s roads.
Jan de Grave, Communications Director, The Brewers of Europe
+32 (0)2 551 1810; firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Brewers of Europe
Founded in 1958 and based in Brussels, The Brewers of Europe unites the national brewers’ associations from 29 European countries to promote the interests of over 5000 European breweries.
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