Drink drive death rate not changed since 2010

The number of people killed in road accidents where the driver was over the drink drive limit has not dropped since 2010.

Provisional figures released by the Department for Transport estimate there were 240 such deaths in 2018, exactly the same rate of fatalities ten years ago.

The total number of casualties caused by drink driving increased to 8,700 in 2018, up 1% from 2017.

The number of accidents where a driver was over the alcohol limit rose by 4% to 5,900 in 2018, compared with the previous year.

England and Wales have the highest drink drive limit in the whole of Europe at 0.8mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, after Malta, the previous joint highest, lowered their drink drive limit to 0.5mg of alcohol in 100ml per litre of blood in 2018.

“Only 42% of drivers involved in an accident in 2018 were breath-tested by police”, said Hunter Abbott, managing director of AlcoSense and a member of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS).

“This has declined steadily since 2008, when 55% of motorists were breathalysed after a collision.

“Of those who actually were tested following an accident, more than 3,800 were over the limit – at 4.4%, that’s the highest failure rate for 10 years”.

Just 320,988 drivers were breath tested by police at the roadside in 2018, according to Home Office figures – less than half the 670,023 breathalysed in 2009.

“Casualties will not reduce until better enforcement is in place, combined with stricter limits and drink driving awareness campaigns,” said Hunter Abbott.

“England and Wales have the highest drink drive limit in the developed world, far above the ‘point of intoxication’ when the cognitive effects of alcohol on a person are measurable.

“At the English/Welsh limit, despite not contravening the law, research shows you are 13 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than when sober.

“The Home Office should also stop ignoring robust scientific evidence and the advice of road safety experts – the drink drive limit should be reduced from its current dangerously high level”.

Josh Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, agrees. He said: “With thousands of people still being killed and injured at the hands of drink-drivers every year, and little sign of this situation improving, decisive action needs to be taken.

“We’re calling on the Government to lower the limit and implement an effective zero tolerance on drink-driving, making it clear to drivers that when you’re behind the wheel, not a drop of alcohol is safe.

“We need to change the culture around drink driving and that starts with changing a limit which gives a false impression that it is acceptable to mix alcohol and driving – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Even very small amounts of alcohol dramatically affect your ability to drive safely and the law should reflect this reality.”

2 thoughts on “Drink drive death rate not changed since 2010”

  1. Kevan Chippindall-Higgin

    Road deaths stopped falling in 2011, so this figure comes as no surprise whatsoever. As for only having half the number of tests administered, this might have something to do with the huge drop in police numbers, making desirable levels of testing completely impossible.

    What would help would be tougher sentences on repeat offenders. Being caught three times in drink should result in permanent loss of licence and 10 years jail if subsequently caught driving. The cost would be considerable, but the problem would be solved in that those who have no care about other’s safety would safely incarcerated and thus unable to misbehave.

  2. The above comments are absolutely right. There has been a dramatic reduction in Roads Policing in the last 10 years with Police resources prioritized to other types of work in the Police. Increased use of technology does not address problems such as drink driving and combined with a weak approach by the Courts the punishments do not reflect the seriousness of the offence. Sadly lowering the drink drive limit will do little to address the hard core offenders who drive at 3 or 4 times the drink drive limit. A proper custodial sentence for repeat and serious offenders will start to make a difference and importantly protect the law abiding citizens from this selfish and could not care less culture. (in the UAE dropping litter in the street carries 28 days in jail and there is no litter) This problem can kill other people and a more robust sentencing is now needed to address this issue.

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