Drink-drive casualties hit four-year high

Drink-drive casualties hit four-year high
Drink-drive casualties hit four-year high

The number of people killed or injured in drink-drive related crashes has risen to a four-year high, according to government data.

The latest report from the Department for Transport shows an estimated 9,040 people were killed or seriously injured in drink-drive incidents in 2016 – the latest year for which data is available.

That is a seven per cent rise over 2015 and the highest number since 2012.

Read more: Drink-drivers offered device to stop cars from starting

The DfT report also shows that fatalities were up 18 per cent on 2015 to 230, prompting calls from campaigners for a zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving.

Increasing blight

Overall, accidents involving at least one driver over the drink-drive limit increased by six per cent to 6,070 and accounted for four per cent of all crashes.

The figures have prompted safety campaigners to demand a rethink of the current drink-driving law, labelling it unclear and badly understood.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said: “How many more lives must be needlessly lost before the Government acts on drink-driving?

The drink-drive limit

England, Wales & Northern Ireland – 80 milligrams alcohol per 100ml of blood

Scotland – 50 milligrams per 100ml

“Today’s figures show that drink-driving is an increasing blight on British roads and yet the Government sits on its hands and refuses to address the issue.

“The current drink-driving limit gives a false impression that it is safe to drink and drive – this is a dangerous message and one that couldn’t be further from the truth. Research has shown even very small amounts of alcohol dramatically affect safe driving.

drink-driving
Drink-driving incidents account for around one in 20 crashes in the UK

“Brake is calling for the Government to implement an effective zero tolerance drink-drive limit of 20mg per 100ml of blood, making clear to drivers that not a drop of alcohol is safe.”

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams added: “These statistics are very disappointing. The number of KSI (killed and seriously injured) accidents involving illegal levels of alcohol have been relatively stable for a number of years but are now worryingly showing an increase.

“We are concerned that this may be the start of a trend to which the Government must be vigilant.”

Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at confused.com, is also concerned about the figures and highlighted similarly shocking research into drink-driving convictions last year: “It’s extremely concerning to hear that the number of drink-drive casualties have reached a four-year high. And similarly, our research found that more than 41,000 motorists were caught drink-driving last year.”

Failing education

Hunter Abbott, advisor to the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety and managing director of breathalyser firm AlcoSense said the figures showed the impact of budget cuts to anti-drink-drive programmes.

He commented:  “These latest figures [are] a worrying symptom of budget cuts to education through Think! as well as to enforcement – with the Police now having to do more with less money.

“Even with just one-eighth of the current English limit, you are 37 per cent more likely to be involved in a fatal road accident than when sober.”

Commenting on today’s figures, a spokesman for the Alcohol Information Partnership, said: “We are encouraged that the total number of drink driving casualties in Great Britain has fallen by 37 per cent since 2006, but any year-on-year increase remains a cause for concern. It is unacceptable for anyone to get behind the wheel when they’ve had too much to drink.

“The industry is committed to supporting initiatives launched to drive home the message about drink driving and we will continue to work together to make our roads safer.”

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