Merseyside Police launches Operation Limit to tackle driving under the influence
On 1st August 2023, Merseyside Police launched Operation Limit to clamp down on drink and drug driving. This initiative forms part of Vision Zero, a worldwide strategy aiming to eliminate all road accident deaths and serious injuries by 2040.
Since Sweden implemented Vision Zero in the 1990s, it quickly gained traction throughout Europe and even migrated across the pond, where it is being implemented in various US cities. With the Operation Limit road safety campaign, the police force wants to keep drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs away from behind the wheel and off Merseyside roads.
Road traffic accidents in Merseyside
Merseyside Police reported that 2,315 people were injured in road traffic accidents in 2022. Of these, 471 were badly injured and 23 died.
In the same year, this force apprehended 3,712 drink and drug drivers, constituting a 7% increase compared to 2021. The legal authority uses the latest available technologies to aid it in its commitment to keeping the roads of Merseyside safe.
Drink and drug drivers endanger themselves and others. Although Operation Limit saw a summer launch, it is a year-round initiative that involves various tactics, including existing and new technologies and testing strategies, to corner those who choose to drink or use drugs and drive.
If caught, perpetrators may be banned from driving for up to 12 months and receive a hefty fine of up to £5,000. This is, however, trifling when compared to the loss of life or serious injury suffered in accidents involving drugs or alcohol.
The Merseyside Road Safety Partnership explained that each individual’s tolerance limit is different and even a small amount of alcohol can make a person unfit to get behind the wheel. This means that the authorities can still prosecute a person for under-the-influence driving below the legal limit.
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the legal alcohol limit is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, or, in the case of breathalyser tests, 35µg of alcohol per 100ml of breath. In Scotland, this limit is 50mg or 22µg respectively.
Drugs include prescribed and over-the-counter medication as they can also impair a driver’s reflexes and judgements. The police advised users to carefully read the effects of their medication and make sure that they can take it and drive.
National Road Victim Month also occurs in August, so it is apt that Operation Limit coincides with it. During this time, people remember the victims of road traffic accidents.
Alcohol and drug testing for safer roads
In the UK, the police can perform roadside alcohol tests and administer drug testing for the presence of cannabis and cocaine. These deliver rapid results and empower authorities to take the needed action on the spot, such as taking a driver under the influence off the road.
A roadside alcohol or drug test also serves as evidence in court actions. Apart from this, it can also help identify people who need support with alcohol and drug misuse issues.