There has been a 17 per cent rise in drink driving-related deaths on the road and the highest casualties recorded for a decade, provisional statistics
There has been a 17 per cent rise in drink driving-related deaths on the road and the highest casualties recorded for a decade, provisional statistics from the Department for Transport show.
Between 240 and 320 people were killed on the road in 2019 when one or more driver was found to be over the legal drink-drive limit, the data shows.
It’s the highest death rate linked to drink driving since 2009, with motoring groups calling for the review of the legal limit, an increase in roadside testing and the introduction of ‘alco-locks’ for motorists with previous convictions for being over the influence behind the wheel.
Drink drivers: New provisional statistics revealed by the DfT suggest a decade-high casualty rate when one or more driver involved was found to be over the legal alcohol limit
The data is based on reported accidents involving at least one motor vehicle driver or rider over the legal alcohol limit for driving in 2019, based on measurements taken by the police and toxicology data from coroners.
The ‘final estimated’ figure will be published in August, but points to a 10-year high for drink-drive deaths.
The DfT has given a 280 ‘central estimate’ for road casualties as a result of one or more drivers being intoxicated, however, it claims the rise from 240 in 2018 is ‘not statistically significant’.
It says: ‘These statistics, especially the number of fatalities, are subject to considerable uncertainty.
‘This means that it is impossible to be sure of the precise number of fatalities, so ranges and confidence intervals are used for fatalities throughout the publication.’
This Department for Transport chart maps fatalities in reported drink-drive accidents in Britain from 2009 to 2019
Fatalities in reported drink-drive accidents, as a percentage of all fatalities from 1979 to 2019
It added that an estimated 7,860 people were killed or injured when at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit.
This represents a fall of nine per cent from 8,680 in 2018 – and the lowest recorded.
The total number of accidents where at least one driver was over the alcohol limit decreased by eight per cent to 5,400 in 2019, the lowest number of drink-drive accidents.
The 280 central estimate represents 16 per cent of all deaths in reported road accidents in 2019, the DfT confirmed.
Lower drink drive limit, increasing enforcement and alco-locks should be considered, says RAC
Simon Williams, RAC road safety spokesman described the figures as ‘hugely concerning’.
He told This is Money that government intervention may be needed to curb the rise in drink drive-related casualties, including a review of the existing drink-drive limit.
‘The UK Government should consider all options, including increasing enforcement at the roadside, the use of alco-locks for those already convicted of driving under the influence and even looking at the merits of reducing the drink-drive limit in England and Wales to bring it in line with most other European countries,’ he said.
Rise in drink-drive crashes on Britain’s roads: There has been a 3% annual increase in the number of shunts involving intoxicated motorists, says the DfT
Government guidelines state that the limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, 35 microgrammes per 100 millilitres of breath or 107 milligrammes per 100 millilitres of urine.
In Scotland the limits is lower: 22 microgrammes in breath and 50 milligrammes in 100ml of blood.
The drink-drive limit in Scotland was reduced lower than the rest of the UK in 2014 and stricter rules mean that one drink is likely to push a driver over the legal threshold.
Last year, the AA motoring organisation gave its support for the introduction of new rules that would see young novice drivers facing stricter drink drive limits than other motorists.
At a hearing of the Transport Select Committee in October, it called for a zero-tolerance limit for drivers in the first months after passing their driving test.
It demanded a combination of measures – including increased use of telematics insurance – and ‘robust enforcement’ to cut the number of accidents on Britain’s roads involving young motorists.
The RAC’s suggestion of introducing ‘alco-locks’, which are installed in cars driven by previous offenders, has also been suggested previously.
‘Alcolocks’, which force previously-convicted drink drivers to pass a breath test before they drive, should be considered, says the RAC
The devices – known more formally as alcohol ignition interlocks – are systems which test drivers for alcohol in their breath before they are allowed to drive.
They work in the same way as conventional breathalysers, in that they test to amount of alcohol in the sample of breath provided.
When fitted to a car, the driver is required to blow into the kit before the engine can start.
The systems vary, with some locking out the ignition for up to 24 hours if the user has alcohol in their breath.
If the measurement taken is over the limit, the system immobilises the vehicle’s engine, meaning the driver won’t be able to use the car until they blow below the limit.
While additional measures may be needed to cut drink drive casualty, the prevalence in road deaths liked to being over the alcohol limit has fallen over time.
In 1979, 26 per cent of road deaths occurred in accidents where at least one driver or rider was over the drink-drive limit.
This had fallen to 15 per cent a decade later in 1989.
Since then, the percentage of road deaths that are drink-drive related has varied between 12 per cent and 18 per cent.