D' />

The Government believes New Zealand drivers aren't ready to moderate their drinking. We know they are. So take responsibility for keeping our roads safe by signing up: Two Drinks Max.

- Sign up at nzherald.co.nz here
- Sign up on Facebook here
- Use #2DrinksMax to show support on Twitter

One of the country's foremost trauma surgeons is calling for the Government to cut the drink-driving limit to less than half its present level.

Dr Ian Civil, Auckland City Hospital's director of trauma services, wants to see the limit cut from 80mg to 30mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

He is sick of seeing young people stretchered through the door of his trauma ward with preventable injuries.

"There are usually three or four. Many of them have open fractures, internal injuries, head injuries.

"Almost always all are intoxicated and as a general rule, the driver is the most intoxicated.

"You always think this sort of crash is completely preventable," he said.

"When it's something completely unpreventable and medical, you can detach yourself from it. But I don't think you can ever get used to people suffering terrible injuries and feeling they are preventable."

In the past year patients from 162 motor vehicle accidents have arrived at the hospital's trauma ward.

The 34 drivers who had their blood alcohol tested at hospital averaged double the legal alcohol limit.

Figures were similar for motorcyclists and seriously injured pedestrians who were tested.

Dr Civil said his experience showed drink-driving was still causing carnage on New Zealand roads despite significant investment in anti-drink-drive initiatives.

Lowering the drink-driving limit could change that for the better, he said.

"People often ask what percentage of patients I treat are at between 50mg and 80mg of blood alcohol.

"It would be quite low, but that's not the point. The signal of lowering it makes people less willing to drink before they drive.

"Lowering it to 30mg would signal that drinking and driving is not acceptable.

"These people are putting themselves and everyone around them at risk."

The change would have scientific support, he said.

"People should view driving as something that sometimes requires complete control of your faculties.

"There is strong evidence that impairment starts at 30mg. By the time you're at 50mg there is clear evidence of impaired performance," he said.

"Then what do you do when someone cuts in front of you or a pedestrian steps out?"


A Herald on Sunday Phoenix Research poll found 45 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds would not drive after having any alcoholic drinks, while a further 32 per cent said they would not drive if they had two drinks.

But the poll results do not match crash statistics that reveal 35 per cent of fatal crashes involved young people.

"It's a no-brainer for this generation that drink-driving is bad," Students Against Drunk Driving national manager Anna Reid said. But the statistics were "way out of proportion of their age group".

Members told of poor decision making once young people had been drinking. "A lot of the SADD messages are around planning before partying ... putting the right thoughts into a young person's head before they find themselves having to make a decision and aren't really equipped to because they've had a few."

By last night more than 1500 people had pledged their support for the Herald on Sunday 's "Two Drinks Max" campaign, about 900 on nzherald.co.nz and 600 through nzherald.co.nz's Facebook site.

Some comments on Twitter:

* I think it's a great idea to lower the drink drive limit - got my full support. - twitter.com/philipduncan

* 2drinksmax is too simplistic for something which is far more complicated. - twitter.com/al-nz

* My Dad was killed by a drink driver so I wholeheartedly support 2drinksmax. Good on you NZ Herald. - twitter.com/rednblackbaby

* Totally agree with 2drinksmax. I never drive if I've been drinking. Even if I'm feeling fine, maybe my judgment is off. - twitter.com/lmsmith