Drink driving accident deaths in Britain rise 20% - the most significant jump in casualties since 2000Wed, 14/02/2018
With the ban of using a mobile phone behind the wheel becoming much more publicised, has the focus been taken away from the dangers of drink driving?
Rob Hull, The Daily Mail, reports:
Provisional estimates suggest that the number of people killed in collisions involving one or more drink drivers on British roads is on the rise.
The latest Department for Transport stats, released today, said that around 240 people had been killed in accidents with motorists over the legal alcohol limit in 2016, up from 200 the year previous.
That's a 20 per cent increase in casualties and the most significant year-on-year rise for drink-drive related deaths for a decade and a half.
Even with the rise, however, drink driving-related deaths remain at less than half the level seen a decade ago.
The DfT's announcement said the provisional rise in drink-drive related deaths was 'statistically significant', though said the overall number was in-line with figures reported between 2010 and 2014.
A greater estimated 9,050 people were killed or injured during 2016 in shunts involving drivers over the limit, up from 8,470 the year previous - a rise of seven per cent.
That is almost 40 per cent lower than the number seen a decade earlier, however.
With 1,792 people losing their lives on roads in Britain last year, about one in seven (13 per cent) of all road casualties involve drink drivers each year.
While the DfT reiterated that the 240 figure was only an estimation, it said it was 95 per cent certain that the true number sat somewhere between 200 and 280 casualties.
In 2015, the government department confirmed that 200 people had been killed in drink-driving related road traffic accidents.
This would be the first time casualty counts related to drink driving have risen since 2013. Clarified figures will not be available until later in the year, however, the RAC said the picture being presented was a disturbing one.
'At best, progress in reducing fatal crashes as a result of people drinking and driving continues to stall, and at worse there has been an increase for the first time since 2009 – which would be the biggest year-on-year rise in such crashes since 2000,' said RAC road safety spokesman, Pete Williams.
'We are under no illusion about the scale of the challenge when it comes to ending the menace of drink-drivers on the UK’s roads – not least in addressing the problem of persistent offenders.'
The motoring organisation has called on the Government to make it 'crystal clear' to drink-drive offenders that 'enough is enough', and demanded more communication on the strategies in place to tackle the crime.
It added that the depleting number of dedicated road policing officers also need to be given the resources to 'robustly enforce the law' and that the Government needs to re-think the current drink drive restrictions.
In a recent study, it found that 59 per cent of Britons surveyed supported a lower limit for drink driving. That comes despite the fact that Britain is one of the European countries with the safest roads and best record of bringing down drink driving deaths.
Williams added: 'We also repeat our plea to the Government to review the drink-drive limit in England and Wales – the limit in these parts of the UK is among the most forgiving of anywhere in Europe, which surely sends the wrong message to anyone who thinks about getting behind the wheel after having too much to drink.'
Critics of lowering the drink drive limit point out, however, that those who persistently drive over the limit are likely to do so, whatever it is set at.
The AA also responded to the report, saying that the figures would represent the largest year-on-year rise in drink drive casualties for a decade and a half.
That came in in 2000, when figures jumped 15 per cent to 530 casualties from 460 the year before.
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA said: 'Part of the problem for this increase is the number of hard-core drink-drivers, those who are excessively over the limit.
'Potentially these are drivers that have behaved in such a manner for years and feel that they will never be caught.
'To help redress the problem, we need more road traffic officers targeting people in places where there is most likely to be the problem.
'The statistics need to show the breakdown of accidents by time of day to assess the proportion of drivers getting drunk at the pub versus those drinking at home who become a particular menace the morning after.'
The AA also called for more people to notify the police when they witnessed others getting behind the wheel knowing they were over the legal limit.
Drink driving is hugely dangerous, and alcohol greatly reduces your judgement and reaction times, even if you’re just slightly over the limit. Unfortunately, many people are unaware of the actual drink driving limit, causing them to misjudge their consumption and therefore break the law. Is it time to enforce a zero policy limit for drink driving?