Brake urges public to stamp out drink driving as police launch summer crackdown

Monday 2 June 2014

Brake, the road safety charity

Brake, the road safety charity, is today urging drivers to pledge not to drink any alcohol before getting behind the wheel this summer, as the Association of Chief Police Officers' (ACPO) month-long drink and drug driving enforcement campaign kicks off. The campaign will see police across England and Wales stepping up roadside alcohol and drug checks, and warning the public about the risks.

As part of last summer's campaign, 100,892 drivers were breathalysed, of whom 5,170 failed the test – a slight drop on the year before [1].

As the weather improves over the summer, some people may be tempted to have a drink as they travel to and from BBQs, festivals and other events – especially with the football World Cup looming large on the horizon. Brake is urging everyone to leave the car at home or ensure they have a completely sober designated driver for summer festivities, and to look out for friends and family to make sure they also plan ahead to get home without putting lives at risk.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "Drink driving remains one of the biggest killers on our roads, yet every year thousands of drivers risk it. That's why it's so important that the police are out in force clamping down on this selfish behaviour, now and throughout the year. However, even if you're under the limit, you can still be a danger: even very small amounts of alcohol significantly affect your judgement and reactions at the wheel. We need everyone on board with the message that motor vehicles and alcohol – in any amount – don't mix. We're calling on drivers to pledge to never drive after drinking even one drink, and for government to introduce a zero-tolerance drink drive limit, to help stamp out the deadly menace of drink driving once and for all."

Read about Brake's Not a drop, not a drag campaign. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, hashtag #notadrop.

One in six deaths on UK roads are caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit [2] of 80mg alcohol per 100 ml blood, but drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [3]. This is because even small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times, judgment and co-ordination. Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not [4].

Case study
Evey Staley, 10, from the Isle of Wight, was killed by a drink and drug driver on 24 August 2012. Her mum and dad, Neal and Penny Staley, were driving her to the shops to buy baking ingredients. As they pulled out of their driveway, their car was hit by another vehicle, driven by Robert Blakely, who was two and a half times over the drink drive limit and had been smoking cannabis. Evey's side of the car took the worst of the impact. Her 14 year old sister, Ellie, witnessed the crash from her bedroom window.

When Neal came round in hospital the next day, his wife was still in a coma, and he was told his daughter's head injuries were not survivable. He made the decision to turn off Evey's life support. Blakely was sentenced to 10 years in prison.

Evey's family became the focus of Hampshire Constabulary's Christmas drink drive campaign in 2013, with a series of hard-hitting video interviews. Watch a new abridged version here – – or for the full original series, see here –

Neal Staley said: "Every day since we lost Evey has been painful – we will be like this for the rest of our lives. We take a crumb of comfort knowing she was killed pretty much instantaneously, that she didn't suffer; we could have had Ellie in the car as well, we could have lost both of them, we could have lost all of us. But why be so selfish to put a family in that position?

"Campaigning against drink and drug driving has helped us through, but it will never outweigh the grief and loss. If we can stop just one person from drink driving, it will be worthwhile, to prevent another family going through what we have endured over the past 20 months."

Brake's advice
Even very small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times and hazard perception, making them much more likely to crash, even if they don't feel drunk or even tipsy. The only way to ensure you're safe is to not drink any alcohol before driving, and never drive the morning after having more than one or two drinks. As a passenger, only accept a lift with a driver who's had no alcohol at all.

Planning ahead to get home safely will help avoid getting into an awkward or risky situation, such as having to refuse a lift from a driver who has had alcohol. If you're getting a lift back from a BBQ, party or night out with someone, make sure they are 100% on board with not having any alcohol at all. Always have a plan B just in case a designated driver lets you down, or arrange from the outset to get a taxi or public transport instead.

Calls for government action
Brake calls for a zero tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood, to send a clear message that it should be none for the road. This allows for naturally occurring alcohol in the body, and is a limit set by numerous other countries including Sweden, Poland and Greece. The EU recommends a limit of no more than 50mg, and within the EU only Malta shares the UK's limit of 80mg. Governments in Scotland and Northern Ireland have announced intentions to reduce their limits to 50mg, and in Northern Ireland, newly qualified drivers and commercial drivers will have a zero tolerance limit of 20mg.

Brake is a national road safety charity that exists to stop the needless deaths and serious injuries that happen on roads every day, make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake promotes road safety awareness, safe and sustainable road use, and effective road safety policies. We do this through national campaigns, community education, a Fleet Safety Forum, practitioner services, and by coordinating the UK's flagship road safety event every November, Road Safety Week. Brake is a national, government-funded provider of support to families and individuals devastated by road death and serious injury, including through a helpline and support packs.

Brake was founded in the UK in 1995, and now has domestic operations in the UK and New Zealand, and works globally to promote action on road safety.

Road crashes are not accidents; they are devastating and preventable events, not chance mishaps. Calling them accidents undermines work to make roads safer, and can cause insult to families whose lives have been torn apart by needless casualties.

End notes
[1] ACPO drink drive summer results, ACPO, 2013
[2] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2013
[3] Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010
[4] ibid

Tags: Drink-Drive police alcohol