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Iceland lowers drink-drive limit

13.06.2019 - 10:51
Mynd með færslu
 Mynd: Kristján Ingvarsson - RÚV
Alþingi has unanimously approved a new traffic law that includes a reduction of the legal drink-drive limit. Transport and local government minister Sigurður Ingi Jóhannsson (pictured) says the new bill has been in preparation for the last 12 years and has been put to Alþingi four times before without ever making it onto the schedule.

With the new law, the legal blood alcohol limit for drivers will reduce from 0.5 permille to 0.2. The law describes it as part of the unwavering policy of the authorities that alcohol and the operation of powered motor vehicles do not go together. 

Supporting documentation states that alcohol is the second-most-common cause of fatal road traffic accidents, after speeding. Research shows that 0.5 permille of blood alcohol has a measurably negative effect on an individual’s driving ability and increases the likelihood of accidents. A driver with 0.5 permille of alcohol in their blood is 150-times more likely to die in a road traffic accident than if they were totally sober, and 30-times more likely to suffer serious injury. 

The bill sets out to improve road safety, to update existing rules to modern standards, to clarify areas that were unclear and open to interpretation, and to better-harmonise traffic laws to international agreements with an eye to developments overseas. 

A comprehensive review of traffic rules started in May 2017 and was built on an older bill proposed by a committee in 2007. Extensive research was carried out on the status of traffic regulation in Iceland, the Nordic countries, and elsewhere in Europe. The bill’s authors also cooperated with a large number of stakeholders and experts.

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Alexander Elliott
Project manager