Canterbury Road Safety Coordinators have combined resources to run a campaign aimed at making Canterbury roads safer by reducing rural drink driving.
Hurunui, Waimakariri, Selwyn, Ashburton, Timaru, Mackenzie and Waimate District Councils are participating in this campaign, which encourages motorists to plan a safe ride home if they drink this summer.
This is particularly important in light of the lower legal alcohol limits that are now underway.
Under the new legislation (effective 1 December), the alcohol limits while driving are almost half what they were previously, with hefty penalties for being over the new limits.
The new limit for drivers aged 20 years and over is 250 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath (down from 400) or 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100millitres of blood (down from 80). The alcohol limit for drivers under the age of 20 remains at zero. These changes have brought New Zealand law into line with the limits already in place in the majority of OECD countries.
Penalties for being over the new limits also went into place on 1 December. Drivers who are over 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath, or 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, will continue to face criminal sanctions as has been the case in the past.
Drivers who fail an evidential breath test between 251 and 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath will receive an infringement notice with a $200 infringement fee and 50 demerit points.
Drivers who accumulate 100 or more demerit points from driving offences within two years will receive a three month driver licence suspension.
These changes are based on research which showed more crossings of the edge and centre line, and higher maximum speeds at blood alcohol limits above 50mg/100mL.
In Ashburton District between 2009 and 2013, there were 138 crashes where alcohol was involved. These crashes resulted in nine fatalities and 21 serious injuries. 78% were single vehicle crashes.
"Drink driving puts everyone at risk and is one of the leading causes of crashes in Ashburton," says Ashburton Road Safety Coordinator, Aileen Campbell. "In rural areas it can be harder to find a way home after drinking, and so the campaign promotes planning a safe ride home ahead of time."
In Ashburton the Ashburton Community Alcohol and Drug Service (ACADS) lead the campaign, supported by the Ashburton District Council, the Ashburton Police, Presbyterian support and other services. ACADS have been promoting safe drinking and driving for more than 20 years in the District. The local campaign uses resources developed by Canterbury Road Safety Coordinators to give to licensed premises throughout Ashburton District in support of their host responsibility activities.
"Now that the campaign is underway and the new legislation has gone into effect, drivers should expect to see more random police patrols over rural roads in summer. The booze bus will be deployed in rural areas as well as urban areas."