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Latest drink-drive statistics: safety campaigners call for widespread use of aloclocks

The latest statistics for drink drive casualties and fatalities have been released by the Department for Transport (DfT). In 2019, drink drive fatalities made up 13% of all fatalities on the road.

09 September 2021

Latest drink-drive statistics: safety campaigners call for widespread use of aloclocks

In 2019, drink drive fatalities made up 13% of all fatalities on the road.

• Fatalities in 2019 remained similar to 2018, with just a 2% decrease. Between 210 and 250 people were killed in collisions in Great Britain where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit.

• There was a moderate but welcome decline in drink-drive non-fatal casualties — down 10% on 2018.

• The total number of collisions in which at least one driver was over the alcohol limit decreased by 9% to 5,350, which is also the lowest number recorded.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart, said: “More use of alcolocks – which require the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting or continuing to operate the vehicle – and extra penalties such as vehicle forfeiture could all be part of a more joined-up approach to the problem.

“Rehabilitation courses work, and we believe all those convicted of drink-driving should be sent on one automatically rather than having to opt in. Hard core drink-drivers are simply not getting the message, and these figures will not improve until policy changes.”

Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of policy, said: “These figures represent a rather chilling reminder that in the region of 250 people are killed by drink-drivers on Great Britain’s roads every year, a figure that’s barely fallen since 2010.

“Clearly much more needs to do done, and one area we’d like to see progress in is around cutting reoffending."

“A report by PACTS (The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety) found that nearly one-in-five drink drive offences are carried out by repeat offenders, something that could be tackled with the introduction of alcohol interlocks.”

Safety campaigners are also concerned that roadside testing has dramatically declined. Police carried out 285,380 roadside breath tests in England and Wales in 2019 – less than half the number in 2008.
Scotland’s lower drink-drive limit

In 2014, Scotland reduced the drink-drive alcohol limit to 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood — lower than in England and Wales.

In an article published by the Institute of Alcohol Studies, Dr Jonathan James and Professor Marco Francesconi compared drink-drive rates in Scotland in 2019 to England and Wales.

Their research concluded that the lower Scottish limit had no impact on any type of road accident, from fatal crashes to collisions involving slight injuries or drink-drive accidents. They found that the evidence held true for subgroups of the population (e.g., young men), even when taking into consideration times and location (for example nights, weekends, and rural or urban areas).

According to the report the reform had no effect for two reasons:
• The lack of availability of cheap alternative transport (taxis, trains, buses)
• Deterrence (breath tests)

“We find that alternative means of transportation were neither more available nor cheaper, and police enforcement was weak. Both channels therefore contribute to the lack of an impact of the reform.”

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