18 July 2008
The legal blood alcohol limit for teenage drivers should be cut to
zero to reduce the high level of drink-driving accidents, England's chief medical officer urged in his 2007 annual report.
Sir Liam Donaldson said that although the move risked being controversial, it would improve road safety. His call came as drink-drive laws are being reviewed in the UK with data showing 14 young people die each week in car accidents.
Donaldson's report, published on July 14, highlighted the health needs of teenagers, in particular the 'Big Six' issues: smoking, alcohol and drugs, accidents and violence, diet, physical activity and sexual health.
He also called for a national summit to take stock of health programmes and services for teenagers.
'Habits adopted in the teenage years can form behaviour for a lifetime. Adolescent binge-drinkers are twice as likely as their peers to be dependent on alcohol or taking illicit drugs by the time they reach 30, while someone who starts to smoke aged 15 years is three times more likely to die of smoking-related cancer than someone who starts smoking in their 20s.'
Supporting the recommendations, Dr Vivienne Nathanson, head of science and ethics at the British Medical Association, said: 'It is vitally important that we understand teenagers' views and learn from them so that our public health policy is effective and relevant to those it is aimed at.'