Written Answers. - Road Safety.

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

12 Ms O'Sullivan asked the Minister for the Environment and Local Government the representations, if any, made to the EU Commission regarding its proposals for an EU-wide blood-alcohol level for drivers; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [10029/00]

Minister for the Environment and Local Government (Mr. Dempsey): A communication from the European Commission on priorities in EU road safety was presented to the transport council on 20 March 2000. The communication reviews progress on the EU Road Safety Action Programme 1997-2001 and proposes a number of short and medium term priorities.
In relation to the alcohol factor in road accidents, the communication indicates the Commission's intention, instead of promoting an existing or new legislative proposal, to submit a recommendation to member states emphasising the need for more effective enforcement and international co-operation in prosecuting drink driver offenders as well as the adoption of a 50 milligram blood alcohol limit or even lower limits for certain categories.
Prior to the presentation of its communication to the Council the Commission had informal consultations with representatives of member states in relation to the issue of blood alcohol levels through the EU high level group on road safety. My Department's contribution to these discussions was based on the principles set out in the Government strategy for road safety 1998-2002. These recognise the relatively recent introduction of the 80 milligram blood alcohol limit in Ireland and the consequent priority to improve compliance with this requirement rather than to move to new limits. The strategy concluded that the Government would follow the progress of fdevelopments internationally, as well as progress towards relevant national road safety targets, in considering the adequacy of the present 80 milligram limit in Ireland.