Victoria's road toll could be reduced to close to zero if the drink-driving limit was lowered, according to the outgoing head of the Transport Accident Commission (TAC). Janet Dore is calling for the legal blood-alcohol level for drivers to be reduced from 0.05 to 0.02 as she stands down as chief executive of the TAC after seven years. Ms Dore said reducing the limit would go a long way to realising the ultimate aim of a zero road toll.
"We believe that's the only target that's acceptable, really, and we're emulating countries like Sweden and the Netherlands, who are making real progress," she said.
Last year's road toll was 249 while in 2013, 243 people died on the state's roads. According to police figures, a quarter of road trauma in the state was caused by drink drivers in 2014. Ms Dore said driving can be impaired after one glass of beer or wine.
"I believe it is because it depends how you're going to react in a risky situation and one glass of alcohol can affect your sensitivities depending on the situation," she said. "But of course it's actually something that affects you and it's all a matter of degree of course."
Ms Dore said members of the community had told her they wanted drinking and driving to be separated.
"How we do that should be a conversation for the community," she said. "The ability to use designated drivers and many alternative means of transport are there. The plain fact is that any intake of alcohol will impair your judgement to a degree."
Victoria Police support call for law reform.
Victoria Police have backed Ms Dore's call for a rethink on alcohol laws. Assistant Commissioner Robert Hill said a growing body of evidence suggests the state's drink-driving laws need to be reviewed.
"We need to have this community discourse to think through whether it's appropriate in the year 2015 for people to drink and drive," he said. "We'll continue to see people killed on our roads in the same level if we do not take a significant step in terms of how we're delivering road safety in this state."
Commissioner Hill said Sweden reduced the legal blood alcohol limit to 0.02 in 1990 and since then have recorded a 10 per cent reduction in road trauma.
"Driving a motor car, riding a motorcylce - it is a complex task, far more complex than it has been in years gone by," he said. "The road system is congested, the complexity of driving a modern vehicle, the distraction of that vehicle. It's time to separate the drinking and driving."