Road Safety News

Analysis highlights rural drink drive problem

Wednesday 16th December 2015

New analysis of drivers who were under the influence of alcohol at the time of a crash shows clear regional differences and highlights the extent of the problem of drink driving in rural areas.

The analysis has been compiled by Road Safety Analysis (RSA) to support the national drink drive campaigns that are currently being run by the DfT THINK! team and police forces across the country.

The information was sourced from the STATS19 database of reported injury collisions between 2010 and 2014 and is presented on an interactive map showing the figures by different police forces.

It uses counts of cars involved in crashes where the contributory factor ‘CF501 Driver Impaired by Drink’ was assigned by the attending police officer, compared with incidents where CF501 was not attributed.

In order to calculate a population based rate the ONS data for residents of each police force area was used, together with the home postcode of the driver. This gives a ‘drivers from’ calculation, rather than a ‘crashes in’ measure.

Figures for individual police forces compare how frequently that force records car drivers who reside in their own area as impaired by alcohol, compared to the national rate.

The analysis reveals that of more than 500,000 car drivers involved in police attended injury collisions between 2010 and 2014, 2.7% were considered impaired by drink at the time of the crash. Drivers from rural areas were 22% more likely to be impaired by alcohol than all drivers.

When further broken down by police force area, the figures show that relative to population size, drivers from Lincolnshire were 71% more likely to be considered over the limit than the national norm. Car drivers from London were the least likely with a risk rate 63% lower than the average.

Nationally the percentage of crash involved car drivers who were intoxicated has declined from 3.1% in 2010 to 2.5% in 2014. Despite the concentration of effort in December however, it is the month of May that sees the greatest percentage of drunk drivers.

In conclusion, Road Safety Analysis says that while the vast majority of British drivers are responsible when it comes to drinking and driving, in rural areas it is much harder and more expensive to take the safe option.


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Jeff, there are a couple of examples of how we might better direct our resources which can be found by looking at the biggest 'causal factors' in Stats19. These are failure to look properly and failure to judge another's course or speed. Of course these factors cannot be objectively measured unlike booze and speeding so they never get the attention they deserve even though they are the biggest killers out there. Although working out a strategy that will help minimize these factors would be difficult at first it would not be impossible so the sooner we can get started the better off everybody would be.

Another huge problem that we need to address especially for young/new drivers and riders, is the goal/feedback problem that I have outlined in my latest blog post.

Solve these problems and we can begin to make substantial progress.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Duncan said; Diverting resources from something that hardly kills anybody to something that kills practically everybody would be a very wise move and it would at least show we knew what our priorities were.

Can you please provide some examples of how we could do this Duncan?
Jeff, Cumbria

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David, I am interested in your comment "A further 60 people were killed in collisions where the driver would have been over a 50mg limit." Is this data actually compiled ie the actual level of readings between 50 and 80mg?
Andy, Warwick

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We publish more comments from you than just about anyone else - so much for censorship!
Nick Rawlings, editor, Road Safety News

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Pat, what you are saying is that drink driving is not an issue within road safety but a political matter for the government to decide upon. These deaths have been going on every year since its implementation more than 40 years ago and no government as yet has had the guts to make the change in legislation which they are empowered to do in order to safeguard the population. I doubt this will be published as so much of what I write seems to disappear. Maybe its too sensitive or controversial for some persons ears. Censorship does well here.
Bob Craven lancs...Spacer is Safer Campaigner

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Sorry about Anglesey (and part of Norfolk) it was down to our slightly dodgy mapping layer for police forces. This doesn't affect the analysis, just how it's presented on the map.
Richard Owen

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David, I was simply commenting on the revelation in the press release that of more than 500,000 car drivers involved in police attended injury collisions between 2010 and 2014, 2.7% were considered impaired by drink at the time of the crash. If this is a statistical nonsense then perhaps the good people at Road Safety Analysis have made an error in their calculations.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Why is Anglesey white on the map? Is it not part of the UK any more?
Pat, Wales

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Whilst I agree with the "spirit" of Bob's second comment about taking personal responsibility, a nil-by-mouth alcohol law is likely to remain a dream as it is just not practical. Think of those voters who would be sufficiently disgruntled by being 'done' for having a small residual or trace amount of alcohol. At the next general election they would vote out whichever government brought in such a law. Why do you think we have ended up with such a silly mobile phone law - distraction is there whether hand-held or hands-free but one is legal and the other not.
Pat, Wales

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Thank you for that insight David. That to me would indicate that only in 2013 some 320 persons had lost their lives which would not have happened if there had being a nil limit to drink driving. Just how many others have died over the years due to governments allowing drivers to have what they consider to be one pint. Then perhaps an hour or so later another and then another. Drinkers should be responsible but if its nil by mouth then they would understand. It's simpler and safer for our roads and other road users, that they should not drink at all whilst in control of a motor vehicle.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safer Campaigner

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Duncan's view that drink driving is implicated in only a tiny percentage of injury accidents is a statistical nonsense. 260 people were killed in GB in 2013 in collisions where the driver was over the legal drink drive limit. And that's at the 80mg limit - higher than anywhere else in Europe (bar Malta!) A further 60 people were killed in collisions where the driver would have been over a 50mg limit.
David Davies

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As I understand the stats re drunk driving are somewhat estimated by a police officer on the stats 19 form. Some drivers who may have been involved in an accident and driven off or do not stop at the scene before the police arrive and there is therefore speculation that the driver who did this, having fled the scene, would or could be under the influence of drink or drugs. This opens up concern about the credibility of such stats in the first place.

Also, the report states that 2.7% of drivers considered impaired by alcohol ie. is in someone's opinion, not necessarily a matter of fact. It presumes that a driver had been impaired by alcohol. Statistics based upon speculation.
Bob Craven lancs....Space is Safer Campaigner

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Both Honor and Duncan's comments are valid. Distraction and inattention through tiredness also causes a significant number of collisions but is very hard to prove. Not a simple problem, no simple answer. More resources are needed on all fronts!
Pat, Wales

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Drink drive accidents accounted for around 13 per cent of road deaths and 6 per cent of killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties in 2012. (source: RCGB, DfT 2014)

There has indeed been considerable success through persistent year on year efforts to enforce drink driving limits and to take drunk and impaired drivers out of their vehicles and off our roads. Like many human decisions, continued information, campaigning and enforcement is still required to maintain the current lower levels and to reduce them further.

If we stop doing so, levels will rise again because compliance is directly related to the perception of the likelihood of detection and consequences. If more people think they can get away with it, they will try. New drivers come onto our roads every week and they also need to learn these lessons to inform their decision making.

This job isn’t just “done” it needs to keep being done.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

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With the revelation that drink driving is only implicated in a tiny 2.7% of injury accidents wouldn't it be more beneficial if the scant road safety resources were now directed elsewhere? Failure to look properly kills far more people than booze ever will and yet vision and perception is the least understood of all the human factors and limitations. Diverting resources from something that hardly kills anybody to something that kills practically everybody would be a very wise move and it would at least show we knew what our priorities were.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (7) | Disagree (8)