Government figures show rise in drink-drive casualties

Posted on October 2nd, 2013 by James Luckhurst

Screen Shot 2013-09-30 at 06.21.05Road casualty figures for 2012 confirmed estimates that deaths involving drink-driving increased by more than 25 per cent compared with 2011. A total of 230 people died that year, meaning up to 60 more lives are being lost through drivers being over the limit.  It has prompted road safety groups to call for better enforcement at a time when police patrols have been cut by nearly a third in a decade.

There are also demands for the introduction of ‘random’ breath tests, and a lower drink-drive limit. Critics also blamed cuts in road safety and drink-drive budgets.

David Davies, executive Director of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) said: ‘The 25 per cent increase in deaths from drink driving is a worrying exception to the overall downward trend in fatalities. This may be a result of reductions in roads policing – down by 29 per cent in England and Wales since 2002/3 – and reductions in spending on drink-drive awareness campaigns.  ‘The Government needs to ensure that the drink-drive laws, which are supported by the vast majority of people, are properly enforced.’

Mr Davies said there was a ‘substantial fall’ of eight per cent from last year in the number of people killed on the roads in Great Britain in 2012 – the lowest on record. ‘But 1,754 deaths is still far too high and many of these deaths could have been prevented,’ he added.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) has called on the Government to lower the drink-drive limit from 80mg of alcohol per 100 ml to 50 mg per 100 ml blood and follow the lead of ministers in Scotland and Northern Ireland, who are pursuing a change to the law which is being resisted in Whitehall. It said police should also have increased powers to require a breath test without needing any other reason – the so called ‘random breath test’.

Under the current system, the police can stop any driver for any reason, but they cannot require a breath test without a suspicion that the driver has consumed alcohol, or has committed a traffic offence or been involved in an accident.  RoSPA’s head of road safety Kevin Clinton said the rise in drink-drive deaths was ‘very disturbing’, saying : ‘A lower drink-drive limit would save many lives each year, while effective enforcement of the drink drive law is essential, and should be high profile and highly visible in order to enhance its effect as a deterrent.

‘Drivers should realise that if they choose to drink and drive there is a strong chance that they will be detected and prosecuted and that the penalties will be severe.’

The figures come as new consumer research reveals that only 1 in 10 British adults always stop their peers from drinking and driving.