An incredible 90 per cent of Portuguese drivers think other drivers exceed speed limits and 91 per cent blame other motorists for bad driving, according to sociologist Paquete de Oliveira. He made his claims at a road safety forum, which highlighted both alcohol and drugs as accident risk factors. The study showed that 86 per cent of Portuguese drivers consider that alcohol consumption is the primary cause of most road accidents. In spite of this, 43 per cent admitted to drink driving at some point.
Drug use was also widely acknowledged as a factor in dangerous driving. However, one of the speakers at the forum, the President of the Drug and Drug Dependency Institute, Fernando Negrão, admitted that the authorities still lack the portable instruments used to test for the consumption of drugs, in much the same way as they test for alcohol. “Tests are carried out in hospital and at the Institute of Legal Medicine, but only after accidents involving deaths and/or serious injuries, because the analyses are so expensive.”
Negrão went on to reveal that, according to studies carried out in Quebec, Canada, the most frequently detected substances identified in drivers after road accidents are alcohol, cannabis and benzodiazepans (which are used in a variety of medicines). “The biggest risk factor occurs when alcohol and cannabis are mixed,” he stressed. The final word went to Dr Tato Marinho, who pointed out that, when it comes to the group most at risk of dying in car accidents – those aged between 16 and 20 years old – driving with just 0.2 to 0.5 grammes of alcohol per litre of blood over the legal limit increases the risk of death by road accident by 1000 per cent.