Road crashes involving drink-drivers increase 4% in latest annual figures

There has been a 4% annual rise in the number of drink-drive crashes on Britain's roads, new figures show.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 11:52 am
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 11:52 am

Provisional estimates reveal 5,900 accidents involved at least one driver over the alcohol limit in 2018, the Department for Transport (DfT) said.

This is 200 more than during the previous 12 months, and means around one in 20 of all reported crashes involved a drunk driver.

The central estimate for the number of people killed in these accidents is 240.

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A driver blows into a PSNI Road Policing officers' breathalyser during a random drink driving checkpoint

This is similar to levels seen since 2010 and the fall from 250 in 2017 is "not statistically significant", according to the DfT.

Final drink-drive casualty figures for 2018 will be published in August.

The Scottish Government reduced the alcohol limit for drivers from 80 milligrammes (mg) per 100 millilitres of blood to 50mg in December 2014, but the legal level in the rest of the UK remains 80mg.

Josh Harris, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: "With thousands of people still being killed and injured at the hands of drink-drivers every year and little sign of this situation improving, decisive action needs to be taken.

"We're calling on the Government to lower the limit and implement an effective zero-tolerance on drink-driving, making clear to drivers that when you're behind the wheel, not a drop of alcohol is safe.

"We need to change the culture around drink-driving and that starts with changing a limit which gives a false impression that it is acceptable to mix alcohol and driving - this couldn't be further from the truth.

"Even very small amounts of alcohol dramatically affect your ability to drive safely and the law should reflect this reality."

Steve Gooding, director of motoring research charity the RAC Foundation, said: "Policy in this area hasn't moved for half a century, but in the face of mounting evidence it increasingly falls on opponents of a limit reduction to defend the status quo, rather than asking those who support a cut to keep making their case."

A DfT spokeswoman said: "While there has been a long-term reduction in drink-driving since 1979, we are determined to reduce this number even further.

"Our latest Think! campaign calls on people to intervene if someone they know is planning to drink before getting behind the wheel, while our road safety action plan includes more than 70 different measures to help drive down the number of deaths on our roads."