Brake urges rugby fans to kick the risk of drink-driving into touch

18 Sept 2015
Brake, the road safety charity

As the Rugby World Cup kicks off this weekend with millions of fans set to watch the home nations, Brake is calling on all rugby fans to help tackle the menace of drink-driving that can put themselves, their passengers and other road users at risk. Brake is appealing to everyone attending games or watching them in pubs to plan ahead to ensure they and their friends can get home safely, and pledge to stay completely off the booze if driving.

Drink-driving remains one of the biggest killers on UK roads. One in seven UK road deaths results from crashes where the driver was over the drink-drive limit [1]. A further estimated 65 road deaths per year are caused by drivers who are under the drink-drive limit, but who have significant amounts of alcohol in their blood [2]. 

Read about Brake’s not a drop, not a drag campaign. Tweet us: @Brakecharity, hashtag #NotADrop

Gary Rae, campaigns manager, Brake, said: “As a charity that supports bereaved and injured road crash victims, we witness the suffering that drink-driving inflicts, and appeal to everyone to help put a stop to it throughout the Rugby World Cup and beyond. Drink-driving deaths and injuries are cruel and needless, ending and ruining lives and leaving traumatised families to pick up the pieces. It’s a fact that even small amounts of alcohol increase your risk of crashing. During the Rugby World Cup we are urging drivers to commit to not drinking any amount of alcohol if driving and to ensure they and their friends can get home from watching matches safely.”

“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.”

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.

Tweet us: @Brakecharity, hashtag #notadrop.


One in seven deaths on UK roads are caused by drink-drivers over the current legal limit [1] of 80mg alcohol per 100ml 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 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.

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 2013, from Reported road casualties in Great Britain, final estimates involving illegal alcohol levels: 2013, Department for Transport, 2015

[2] Reducing the BAC limit to 50mg - what can we expect to gain?, Professor Richard E Allsop, Centre for Transport Studies, University College London (PACTS, 2005)

[3] ibid

Tags: Drink-Drive road deaths alcohol