This week I announced, along with Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee, that we intend to lower the legal blood-alcohol concentration from 80 to 50 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood for drivers aged over 20.
Alcohol impairment is a major cause of road accidents in New Zealand, with an average of 61 fatalities, 244 serious injuries, and 761 minor injuries every year caused by at fault drivers who have been drinking.
You will recall that in 2010 we considered the same proposal but deferred lowering the limit until further research was done into the impact of that 30 milligram reduction.
The provisional results from this research showed that reducing the adult limit would prevent on average 3.4 fatalities and 64 injuries through crashes each year, and save about $200 million in social costs over 10 years.
The National-led Government has made the decision to reduce the amount for a variety of reasons. These include the international trend to reduce limits, the weight of public opinion, and the research that indicates widespread benefits overall.
What this decision means is that you will still be able to have a couple of drinks with dinner when you go out, but it does send a message that we are serious about alcohol-related harm on our roads.
Now into the fourth year of the Government’s Safer Journeys road safety strategy, we are tracking towards the lowest road toll in recent times. The number of people dying on our roads has reduced almost 40% in the last four years.
The work is not over. No death is acceptable. That is why we have made the decision to continue the Government’s strong record on road safety.
Best wishes on the 14th anniversary of Indian Newslink. This is a fantastic milestone – congratulations.
Publications such as Indian Newslink play a very important role in delivering the latest news to our communities. You also have an important role to play in helping the Indian community keep in touch with what is happening at home in India.
I am proud to be the Prime Minister of a nation that is as diverse and vibrant as New Zealand. The Indian community is one of the many different ethnic communities in this country, and our society is richer for them and the contributions they make in many ways.
I thank you for the work you do keeping our Indian community informed, and I wish you continuing success for the years ahead.
John Key is Prime Minister of New Zealand. The picture (by Narendra Bedekar) shows him with Indian Newslink Managing Director & Publisher Ravin Lal at our offices on June 10, 2010.