23 Dec 2009

Move to ban alcohol for young drivers

10:49 pm on 23 December 2009

A Government-appointed committee of child health experts says there should be zero tolerance for drinking and driving by young people.

In its fifth report to the Minister of Health on Wednesday, the Child and Youth Mortality Review Committee said young drivers are up to four times more likely to die in a motor vehicle crash than older drivers.

Among its recommendations is that the allowable breath alcohol limit for young and novice drivers be lowered to zero.

The current limit for those under the age of 20 is 30 milligrams of alcohol for every 100 millilitres of blood.

Committee chairman Nick Baker is a Nelson paediatrician.

He says both learning to drink and learning to drive are challenging, and it can be fatal to combine the two.

"People who are not used to the effects of alcohol - they do not know how much they can take, they do not know how impaired they are.

"At the same time as when they are learning to drive, in the dark, with mates in the car."

Dr Baker says the committee would like to see the two activities completely separated.