Dropping blood alcohol limits from 80mg/l to 50 mg/l

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The above infographic is the first I’ve created for the Science Media Centre. Their aim is to promote accurate bias-free reporting on science and technology by helping the media to work more closely with the scientific community.

The Story Behind the Infographic

The New Zealand Government is considering a proposal to drop the maximum legal blood alcohol limit for driving from 80 mg/l to 50 mg/l.

New Zealand’s maximum limit is considered to be high, with many other countries having already adopted a 50 mg/l limit, or lower.   Yesterday, the SMC held a briefing on the subject, looking into the basics of blood alcohol, what the current limit allows, and what effect any changes would have on drinking behaviour.

Media coverage:

Dominion Post: Staggering drunks’ legal under NZ’s alcohol limit

New Zealand Herald: Kiwis push for lower drink limits (with their own accompanying graphic)

Otago Daily Times: Poll supports cutting alcohol level

Stuff/NZPA: Experts back proposal to cut blood alcohol limit

The Press: Medics join push to cut driver limit

Update: It has remained a hot topic in the media – still front page news in August 2010.

Earlier Design

Below is an earlier version of the graphic which was rejected. I prefer this vertical composition but at the time my client wanted the horizontal approach. The feedback from usability testing was that the colours didn’t represent the danger levels so I converted it to the traffic light colours (green, yellow-orange, red). I should have given consideration to colour-blind readers by using patterns within the colours, but simply ran out of time.

Comments (6)

  1. Wow – I didn’t know I could drink 5 pints and still be legal! After that much booze in two hours I’m usually closer to spewing over a lap-dancer than driving a car. Will save me heaps in taxi-fares – thanks!

    • ZEF

      Harold – that’s why the current law is insane. I recommend you stick the the taxi. But I do have to admit, after learning about the legal limits I’m a bit more relaxed about having a drink before hitting the road (but no more than one drink).

  2. What this doesn’t also take into account is the weekly recommenced healthy alcohol intake – if I remember correctly, for women it’s 6 standard drinks *a week* – i.e. 4 glasses of wine. Always amazed to think that going to four events in a week and having a wine would push me over the limit! (Someone correct me if my stats are wrong).

  3. Interesting – I definitely prefer the vertical layout (your original design) – for me, it’s much easier to instantly understand.

    I think it’s because graphically I can picture the glasses stacked on top of each other (which for some reason makes the columns much easier for me to compare at a glance) and the “liquid level” in the half-full ones is correct – horizontal – instead of in the final design where it’s vertical.

    That seems to make far more sense to me…

    I wonder why they chose the horizontal layout instead – was it a space thing, or does it match some existing artwork they already use or something?

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