Brake urges drivers: save lives by pledging ‘not a drop not a drag’, as police launch drink and drug drive crackdown

Monday 1 June 1015

Brake, the road safety charity
news@brake.org.uk 

The National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC, formerly the Association of Chief Police Officers) launches its annual summer drink and drug driving enforcement campaign today (1 June 2015). Brake, the road safety charity, is backing the campaign and urging drivers to enjoy themselves responsibly this summer, and pledge not to drink any alcohol or take any drugs before getting behind the wheel – not a drop, not a drag.

The enforcement campaign will see police across England and Wales stepping up roadside alcohol and drug checks, and warning the public about the risks. For the first time, the summer crackdown will see the use of roadside drug screeners, following the introduction of a zero-tolerance drug drive law in March 2015.

As part of last summer’s campaign, 63,688 drivers were breathalysed, of who 4,108 failed the test – a slightly increased failure rate on the year before, possibly due to increasingly targeted enforcement.

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. 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 by making sure they plan ahead to get home without putting lives at risk.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, said: “We believe drink driving is becoming more and more socially unacceptable in the UK, further aided by the lowering of the drink drive limit in Scotland at the end of last year. The new drug drive law introduced in March was also an important step in catching risky impaired drivers. However, there is a long way to go to stamp out this menace completely, as a selfish minority continue to get behind the wheel after drinking alcohol or taking drugs. We urge all drivers to ensure they are not part of that minority; instead we can all be part of the solution by making sure we can get home safely from summer festivities, and looking out for friends and family and ensuring they stay sober behind the wheel.

“Even one small drink or small amounts of drugs make you a danger on the road, so the only safe policy is not to drink or take drugs at all if you’re driving – not a drop, not a drag. Feeling fine does not mean you’re safe to drive. That’s why Brake continues to campaign for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit, and greater priority to be given to roads policing, to make clear drink and drug driving won’t be tolerated.”

Brake campaigns for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit of 20mg per 100ml of blood through its not a drop, not a drag campaign. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, #notadrop.

Facts

One in eight 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].

Historically, levels of drug driving have not been fully recorded, but research suggests that the scale of the problem may be similar to drink-driving. A study by the Transport Research Laboratory found that 18% of drivers and 16% of motorcyclists killed in road crashes had traces of illegal drugs in their system, the most common being cannabis [4]. It's been estimated 200 deaths a year may result from drug driving [5].

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.

Never risk taking illegal drugs and driving. Their effects are unpredictable, but research shows they can have a disastrous impact on your ability to drive safely. Drugs and alcohol is an especially deadly combination.

It is impossible to judge how impaired you are or if a friend is impaired, so if you or a mate has been taking drugs, you should assume you're unfit to drive, even if you feel okay.

The effects of drugs can last a long time. They can also badly disrupt sleep and make you a risk behind the wheel for days as a result. That's why you can't have illegal drugs and driving in your life at the same time without posing a danger to yourself and others.

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. The limit in Scotland has already been lowered to 50mg.

Brake

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 campaignscommunity 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.

Follow Brake on TwitterFacebook, or The Brake Blog. Follow Julie Townsend on Twitter.

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] Final estimate for 2012, from Reported road casualties in Great Britain, final estimates involving illegal alcohol levels: 2012, Department for Transport, 2014

[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

[4]The Incidence of Drugs and Alcohol in Road Accident Fatalities, Transport Research Laboratory, 2000

[5] Driving under the influence of drugs: report from the expert panel on drug driving, Department for Transport, 2013