Barbara Castle’s Social Revolution – May Have Saved Over 62,000 Lives
“Everyone has cause to be grateful for the courage of Barbara
Castle who pioneered the greatest life saving Act in road safety which
may have prevented over 62,000 people from being killed on our roads –
equivalent to an average MP’s constituency – over the past 30 years”.
This claim will be made today by Professor Brian Prichard,
chairman of the Institution of Alcohol Studies at a luncheon in honour
of Barbara Castle and the 30th anniversary of the breath test at the Law
The 1967 Road Safety Act established the 80mg blood alcohol
limit and made the 70mph speed limit permanent. These actions dealt with
two major causes of death and injury on our roads – alcohol and speed.
Since then the number of road deaths has dropped from 7985 in 1966 to
3598 in 1996. It is impossible to estimate accurately how many of these
lives saved were directly attributable to the introduction of breath
testing. However there is no doubt that breath testing has made a
substantial contribution to the overall improvement.
Messages of tribute to Barbara Castle’s social revolution in relation to drinking and driving were paid by the Prime Minister,
“As we now reflect upon a toll of drink drive fatalities that
is nearly a quarter of the level which existed before the pre-Castle
years we can only remind ourselves of the huge debt that we owe to this
pioneer of modern day drink drive policy”.
Neil Kinnock, EU Transport Commissioner in his tribute says,
“There is more to be done in the United Kingdom and everywhere else…. but she deserves warm tribute as the trail blazer.”
The German Government is considering the introduction of a 50
mg level next year. This will leave Britain lagging behind Belgium,
Finland, France, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, all at 50mg and Sweden
Commenting on this Professor Prichard states,
“Let us hope that the United Kingdom will follow suit and when
the United Kingdom Government has the Presidency of the Council no EU
country will continue to have a limit above 50mg.
Further information from:
Institute of Alcohol Studies,
12 Caxton Street,