Drink drive message still not getting through as one in 15 fail breath-tests

Friday 25 July 2014

Brake, the road safety charity

Brake, the road safety charity, has issued an appeal to the public to not drink and drive – not a drop – this summer and year-round, as figures from the Association of Chief Police Officer's (ACPO) summer drink drive enforcement campaign, show one in 15 of those breath-tested were over the limit.

During the national campaign, which ran from 1 June to 30 June, 63,688 breath tests were administered, of which 4,108 (6.5%, or one in 15) were failed or refused. This is 1.3% more than during the 2013 campaign, possibly resulting from increasingly targeted testing by police. The failure rate was even higher among under 25s, at 7.5% (one in 13).

Reacting, Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: "Brake supports ACPO taking a proactive role in stopping deadly drink drivers. It is frustrating to see too many drivers still selfishly risking lives by getting behind the wheel after drinking, even when the dangers and consequences are so well documented. Our message to drivers is to pledge to never drive after drinking any alcohol – not a drop.

"To stamp out the menace of drink driving, we need the government to introduce a zero-tolerance drink drive limit, rather than asking drivers to do the impossible and guess if they are safe to drive. The law needs to make it crystal clear that drinking any amount of alcohol makes you a danger at the wheel. We also need the government to give greater priority to traffic policing, so we have a suitably strong deterrent against this abhorrent behaviour."

Brake campaigns for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml blood through the Not a drop, not a drag campaign, as well as greater priority and investment in traffic policing. Brake is urging all political parties to make zero tolerance on drink driving a key manifesto commitment for the 2015 general election. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, hashtag #notadrop.

One in six deaths on UK roads are caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit [1] 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 [2]. 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 [3].

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, services for road safety professionals and employers, 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] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2012, Department for Transport, 2013
[2] 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
[3] ibid

Tags: Drink-Drive police alcohol