Road Safety News

Drink-drive figures are ‘worrying’ - RAC

Wednesday 5th October 2016

The number of car drivers who failed a breath test following a collision rose last year for the first time in a decade, new figures from the Government show.

Published on 29 September as part of the DfT’s annual report into road casualties, the figures show that 3,450 car drivers tested positive for drink driving, compared to 3,227 in 2014. This is also the highest number since 2012, when 3,655 car drivers tested positive.

The RAC says the figures are worrying and should be of concern to the Government.

In terms of percentages of drivers tested following a collision, 94,961 tests were administered, representing 50% of all car drivers involved in a collision (188,872).

This figure is the lowest in a decade and a 2% year-on-year fall; in 2014, 101,831 of the 195,576 car drivers involved in a collision were tested.

3.6% of breath tests administered in 2015 proved positive, the highest percentage since 2009, and a year-on-year increase of 0.4%.

The RAC says the figures echo the findings of its 2016 Report on Motoring, and has reaffirmed its call for a lower drink-drive limit in England and Wales.

Nick Lyes, RAC public affairs manager, said: “The latest figures on drivers failing drink-drive breath tests following an accident should be of concern to the Government, and worryingly they chime with the latest findings in the 2016 RAC Report on Motoring.

“Our research indicates a softening of attitudes among drivers when it comes to drink-driving: 6% of motorists admitted to driving over the limit over the last year, up from 3% in 2012, while the number of people who are sure they haven’t driven over the limit has dropped from 89% in 2012 to 80% in 2016.

“Concern about drivers who are over the limit has also fallen in recent years which may suggest the message over the seriousness of the consequences of drink-driving has started to become lost.

“Successive campaigns over a number of years have been effective in making drink-driving more socially unacceptable, but clearly a focus needs to remain on this so that accident rates as a result of driving under the influence do not now start rising on a more regular basis.

“We continue to believe the Government should look at the merits of a lower drink-drive limit in England and Wales, bringing it in line with Scotland and many other European countries. This data will undoubtedly add to the argument that the limit should be reviewed."



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I believe that the stats on drink driving have been manipulated into a less positive one by a number of presumptions. Such as if a driver fails to stop at the scene of an accident it may be presumed that he or she is under the influence of drink or drugs. That may not be the case and the reason to drive off may be entirely due to another causation but it can appear on stats as drink or drug related driving. How many drive offs are there and are they all considered to be drink or drug related? If that is the case it gives a totally false indication of the degree of the problem.
Bob Craven Lancs

Agree (0) | Disagree (1)

If I'm allowed another comment, I think with any of the bad driver traits mentioned, including drink-driving, it's not so much the confidence in not being caught as David suggests, but the fact that a lot of drivers simply don't or can't link what they're doing with the potential consequences, on the basis that 'well, nothing's happened so far...'.

I've spoken to many such drivers and I'm astonished by how little they really understand about being in control of a moving vehicle and how easily that control can be compromised.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (2)

Any of the top driver behaviour failings i.e. drink driving, speeding, tailgating, etc. etc. are all high-risk for collision involvement, but are not an inevitble consequence - it just makes it far more likely. It's therefore naive to try and match an estimate of the numbers of offenders with actual incidents. It's possible to drive drunk without having a collision - through luck - but needless to say, that doesn't make it a safe practice to be ignored, any more than we should ignore the other bad practices. Not for the first time have stats led to the wrong conclusions.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (8)

To be able to make an informed opinion on this, we first need to know the true size of the problem. In the one RAC report we are told that although 6% of drivers admitted to drink-driving, only 3.6% of those tested following a collision actually failed the blood-alcohol test. Could it really be true that drunk drivers are underrepresented in the crash data? To know for sure, we need a scientific study to examine whether there is a causal relationship between the blood-alcohol level of the drivers at fault (rather than merely of involved drivers even it they are a faultless victims) and casualty numbers. The RAC data might give us a hint, but we do not actually know whether over-the-alcohol-limit drivers are genuinely safer than the sober drivers or whether it is just a sampling problem in the RAC survey.
Charles, England

Agree (7) | Disagree (4)

Pubs are only one of many kinds of licensed premises - it would be impossible to police them all even if we did have many more police officers available to do so. Many drivers drink at home or at friends' homes - where the drinks are not measured and are frequently topped up making tracking intake difficult. The only reliable message is: If you are drinking, don't drive.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

Agree (10) | Disagree (4)

Rather than wait for the drink drivers to be encountered by chance on the road by the police, why not breathalyse drivers as they're about to drive away from pubs and other licensed premises? Far more could be detected and deterred that way I would have thought.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (5)

There are many people for whom the societal pressure to conform by not drinking and driving is insufficient. Those people are also not swayed by the potential severe penalties if they are caught, because they see no reasonable prospect of being caught. Unless one actually has a collision prompting Police attendance, then these days there is only a minuscule chance of being stopped by a Police patrol.

Our current PM was Home Secretary during a period in which Police numbers in general were savagely cut. Numbers of Roads Policing Officers were reduced even more severely than their regular colleagues while she was in charge, so I cannot see any realistic prospect of a move towards more Police Officers on our roads. That being the case, more and more drivers will think they are not going to be caught and thereby take a chance on drinking and driving.

Sadly, there is no prospect of this worrying trend in statistics being turned around.
David, Suffolk

Agree (12) | Disagree (0)