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Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003

Shipping and aviation: Alcohol and drugs

233.There is a clear but unquantifiable risk to passengers, crew and the general public from aviation and shipping incidents caused by the inappropriate operation, control or maintenance of vessels or aircraft by persons under the influence of drink or drugs. The introduction of alcohol limits in the marine and aviation sectors will help to reduce this risk by deterring personnel from being impaired through alcohol or drugs whilst on duty and hence act to improve safety to the benefit of users and travelling passengers alike. The alcohol limit will ensure that crews and other persons carrying out specified safety-critical aviation and maritime functions retain the necessary mental and physical skills to manoeuvre vessels and aircraft, in a safe and controlled manner. This will mean savings in terms of pollution prevention (clear-up costs, effects on wildlife etc.); saving damage to or loss of vessels or aircraft; and preventing injury or even loss of life. If it should lead to material reductions in accident numbers, then insurance premiums may possibly decrease in real terms (i.e. no or a small increase versus an increase in inflation).

234.While the introduction of an alcohol limit and alcohol/drugs testing should not have any direct financial implications for the marine and aviation industries, it is possible that delays may occur if crews are made to wait to be tested. Such delays will however be kept to a minimum by the use of screening equipment to analyse initial breath samples at the scene. In addition, testing will only be carried out where an officer has reasonable suspicion that one of the offences under the new legislation has been, or is being, committed. Testing and enforcing an alcohol limit on marine and aviation personnel will place an increased burden on police resources, but this is expected to be largely offset by use of existing resources. In the aviation sector, there will be a small additional implementation cost involved in the necessary modification of existing police screening equipment to indicate a “fail” at the lower aviation limit. The number of prosecutions resulting from the new legislation is expected to be small, but will involve additional policy costs to the courts. These are also expected to be small and to an extent offset by fines.

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