Saturday, 14 July 2012

"Danger, Will Robinson, Danger ... " or the ubiquity of the Grim Reaper ...

A Guardian report on proposed alcohol health warning labels from the Faculty of Public Health got me thinking about the whole issue of health warnings and labelling.

Professor Lindsey Davies (President of the FPH) commented on the publication of the Science and Technology Select Committee’s Alcohol Guidelines report:  "It's critical that we turn the tide in increasing levels of alcohol consumption in the UK, which have doubled over the past 40 years. For example, the cost of treating alcohol-related ill health on the NHS was £3.3 billion in 2006 to 2007. While public health campaigns have their place, the Faculty of Public Health believes that tackling price and availability are the most effective alcohol policies to reduce alcohol-related health harm."

Apart from the outright misinformation in her statement about alcohol consumption ((for the true figure on what Britain drinks click here) ... hohum ... perhaps the FPH will now turn its attention to the motor industry ... and the toll of death, injury and misery relating to road traffic accidents. The numbers are horrific: 32,955 killed, nearly 3m injured between 2000 and 2010. This is 11 years of deaths and injuries on Britain's roads also reported the Guardian.

  • There were a total of 208,648 casualties of all severities in road accidents reported to the police, 6 per cent lower than in 2009. There were 1,850 people killed, 17 per cent lower than in 2009 and 22,660 were seriously injured, down 8 per cent. Motor vehicle traffic fell by 2 per cent over the same period.
  • The number of fatalities fell for almost all types of road user, with a fall of 21 per cent for car occupants, 19 per cent for pedestrians, 15 per cent for motorcyclists. Pedal cycle fatalities rose by 7 per cent.
  • In 2010, it is estimated that 9,700 reported casualties (5 per cent of all road casualties) occurred when someone was driving whilst over the legal alcohol limit. The provisional number of people estimated to have been killed in drink drive accidents was 250 (14 per cent of all road fatalities).
  • Failed to look properly was again the most frequently reported contributory factor and was reported in 40 per cent of all accidents reported to the police in 2010.
  • Not all non-fatal accidents are reported to the police. Our best current estimate is that the total number of road casualties in Great Britain, including those not reported to police, is within the range 660 thousand to 800 thousand with a central estimate of 730 thousand.
  • In 2010, the economic welfare cost of reported road accidents was estimated to be around £15 billion.
Let's look at a couple of those statistics as you'd expect alcohol would play a significant part, and the statistics reflect this, but a full 81% have nothing to do with alcohol ... what is staggering however is that a full 40% of casualties were caused by a failure to look. The DOT's estimated true figure for road traffic casualties of nearer 730,000 is over three times the official figures ... this would mean 292,000 "failed to look" casualties.

Latest Government Health Warning ...
On a pro rata basis the true cost to economy is probably nearer £52billions, which somewhat dwarfs the estimated £25billions alcohol related illness costs the economy as reported by the luminaries of the Alcohol Learning Centre.

So here's my proposal, all babies to be tattooed as per the picture (right) and signs akin to those below to be posted every 500m along every road ... that should just about do the trick and keep the public informed of the dangers posed by other humans and motor vehicles: 

I look forward to FHP's new campaign with baited breath ... like that's gonna happen ... Professor Davies kindly get off our backs ...


Curmudgeon said...

Actually during the last ten years road casualties have fallen considerably quicker than alcohol consumption.

Publican Sam said...

Notwithstanding that I believe the piece still stands on its own merit ... the continual demonisation of alcohol has to be countered and when figures are bandied about ad hoc it's only right to counter that.

thanks for taking the time to read the piece though