News from Brake
Thursday 13 December
As Christmas parties take place across the county, the road safety charity Brake is working with James Dutschak-Kavanagh, who was seriously injured by a drink-driver on Christmas Day 2015, to issue a warning about the dangers of drink-driving, as analysis shows that incidents spike over the Christmas period.
James was just 19 when his life was devastated by a drink driver. On Christmas Day in 2015, which was also James’ 19th birthday, James and his mum were travelling on Sandy Lane, near Gosforth, Newcastle, to meet family when they were hit head on by a drink driver who had lost control of their car. The impact of the crash left James and his mum with life changing injuries and they are still suffering almost three years later.
An increase in drink-driving over the Christmas period, has been identified by Brake analysis of government data. In 2016, December was the month with the most deaths and injuries from crashes involving a drink driver, 870 in total, which averaged out, indicates that across the Christmas month someone was killed or injured in a drink-driving incident every hour of the day .
Tragically, drink-driving is also on the increase across the whole year with the latest statistics showing that drink-driving deaths and injuries are at the highest level since 2012. In 2016, there were an estimated 230 road deaths, 9,040 injuries, and 6,070 relating to at least one driver being over the alcohol limit , all showing an increase on 2015.
The road safety charity is working with James, and other Brake volunteers, to urge all drivers and passengers to be aware that not a drop of alcohol is safe for those getting behind the wheel. Research has proven that any amount of alcohol can affect safe driving performance - drivers with just 10mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood, far below current drink drive limits, are 46% more likely to be at fault in collisions than sober drivers , and when they crash, do more damage than sober drivers .
Ahead of the busy Christmas party season, Brake is advising everyone to plan ahead, speak out and think about the possible impact of alcohol the morning after a night of drinking. A moment’s weakness could have a lifetime of consequence.
Commenting, Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said:
“Drink-driving is an increasing blight on our roads and tragically we are approaching the time when the most incidents take place, the Christmas period. Across December, someone will be injured in a drink-driving incident every single hour, so it is vital that drivers, and passengers, are aware of the dangers. Whilst we want people to go out and enjoy the festive season, drivers must know that getting behind the wheel after drinking can have potentially devastating consequences. Simply put, if you are drinking, don’t drive, and if you must drive, don’t drink.
“The Government needs to act now to put an end to the carnage drink driving causes on our roads. Our current drink-driving law lacks clarity, is badly understood and supports the perception that mixing alcohol and driving is acceptable – this needs to change. Brake is calling for the Government to implement a zero-tolerance drink-drive limit, making clear to drivers that not a drop of alcohol is safe.”
James Dutschak-Kavanagh, Brake volunteer, said:
“At the age of 19, life-changing circumstances were brought upon me through the selfish and reckless decision another individual took to get behind the wheel whilst over the drink drive limit.
“I spent two months of my life in hospital after the crash and a further two-and-a-half months recuperating, and my life is still severely restricted to this very day, almost three years later.
“This festive season I want what happened to me and my mum to be a stark reminder to every one of the devastating consequences drink driving can have.”
Notes to editors:
Plan ahead:Planning ahead to get home safely will help you avoid getting into an awkward or risky situation, such as having to refuse a lift from a driver who has had alcohol. Leaving the decision until the pub, when you've already been drinking, is looking for trouble.
Speak out:You don't have to be confrontational to speak out to someone who’s thinking about drink or drug driving. You can talk to them in a friendly way, explaining why it's a bad idea to get behind the wheel. You could offer to call them a taxi, walk them to the bus stop or walk them home. If they are insistent on driving you might have to be more firm, take their keys or even call the police.
Morning after:Make sure you've completely got rid of any alcohol or drugs from your system before driving. Many drink and drug drivers are caught the next day. Drinking coffee, sleeping, or having a shower don’t help you sober up, only time.
Final estimates of casualties in accidents involving at least one driver or rider over the drink-drive limit in Great Britain for 2016 show that:
- between 220 and 250 people were killed in drink-drive accidents, with a central estimate of 230 fatalities
- the increase in drink-drive fatalities since 2015 is not statistically significant, continuing a period of stability recorded since 2010
- an estimated 9,040 people were killed or injured in drink-drive accidents, a rise of 7% since 2015
- the total number of drink-drive accidents rose by 6% to 6,070 in 2016