Drink-driving: Still a festive issue
Last month Police Scotland released the figures for those caught drink-driving over the 2015 festive period. Whilst the those caught drink-driving year round are falling, Christmas once again saw a spike in people who were willing to risk their the lives of others as well as themselves. Brake's Greg Marah questions it the UK's stance on drink-driving is hard enough and whether enough is being done to highlight the issues drink-driving still causes.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year according to Andy Williams. Christmas is for family, friends, gift-giving and over indulgence. Yet with the festive period comes an increase in those willing to take chances with drinking and driving, despite constant reminders of the damage that could potentially be done from road safety groups.
Sadly recent figures from Scotland suggest that the message about drink-driving over the recent festive period is falling on deaf ears as the number of drivers caught over the legal limit increased by a third, despite fewer drivers being tested in the same period in the previous year.
It could be argued that the new drink-drive limits that were brought in just over a year ago, which saw the Scottish government introduce a lower limit of 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, may have distorted the figures that were released last week.
Yet if you look closely at the Scottish figures, only 19 of the 459 drivers caught were in between the old limit of 80mg per 100ml of blood and the new limit. That’s just 4% of the drivers caught which begs the question, why hasn’t the United Kingdom as a whole followed Scotland’s lead and reduced the drink-drive limit?
Brake continues to call for a zero tolerance drink-drive limit of 20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, in line with evidence that even one drink significantly increases the risk of a crash, and to send the clear message that it should be none for the road. However, a reduction in line with Scotland would be seen as a step in the right direction, as currently the UK has the second highest drink-drive limit in Europe.
The second question that needs to be asked is why the festive period is still seen as a time for risk-taking when it comes to alcohol and driving? Some will argue that it’s a generational problem with older drivers who are more stuck in their ways, not heeding the advice or the law. Others will say young males, often seen as the risk-takers on the road, will be more likely to ignore the drink-drive laws – more so at Christmas but also all year round.
Either way, despite the laws in place, despite the adverts that Think! produce on a yearly basis to discourage those risk-takers, despite the stark reminders within the media – drink-driving at Christmas remains a constant issue.
So what needs to happen? Perhaps there needs to be a greater focus on drink-driving still being one of the biggest killers on our roads, with one in seven road deaths in the UK caused by a driver who was over the limit. Maybe then that percentage of drivers who choose to break the law may just realise their actions could lead to severe consequences, rather than an attitude of “it won’t happen to me”.