Urgent action needed as drink-drive death figures stall

News from Brake

4 August 2016


  •  In 2014, 240 people in Great Britain were killed in crashes where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit, largely unchanged since 2011
  •  Drink-drive fatalities accounted for 13% of all road deaths in 2015
  •  Serious injuries where at least one driver was over the limit dropped by 3% cent between 2013 and 2014, the third consecutive annual decrease
  •  70% of drink-drive fatalities in 2014 were men, showing a worrying trend developing
  •  A quarter of all drink-drive deaths in 2014 resulted from crashes where the driver over the limit was 25-39.[1]

Brake, the road safety charity, is calling on the government to take urgent action after figures released by the Department for Transport (DfT) show little change in the number of people killed because of drink-driving. Government figures reveal that the number of deaths involving a driver under the influence of alcohol was 240 in 2014. That figure has been consistently been reported since 2010 and looks set to continue if the provisional estimate for the 2015 figures proves to be accurate (200-290 killed).

The DfT claim this consistency in drink-drive fatalities is a sign of stability in their work to reduce drink-driving since 2010, with drivers under the influence accounting for 13% of road deaths in 2014 and 15% in 2013.[2] Brake argue that the figures and the government approach have stagnated since the removal of road casualty reduction targets in 2010. Brake urges the government to consider the devastation that even a single death caused by drink-driving can bring and implement a zero-tolerance policy to drink-driving.

A road user group that has been over-represented in the government figures is men; 70% of drink-drive deaths in 2014 were males and 77% of those killed and seriously injured. This figure is a cause for serious concern and Brake is calling on the government to do something to increase awareness and compliance among male drivers in particular.

Unlike 2013, the age group shown as being especially at risk of dying in a drink-drive crash in 2014 was not the youngest age group (17-25) but 25-39 year olds. A quarter of drink-drive deaths in 2014 occurred as a result of a 25-39 year old behind with wheel over the legal limit. This demographic shift must be addressed if progress is to be made in road safety.

However, Brake cautiously welcomes the fall in 17-24 year old drivers dying as a result of drink-driving, which dropped from 25% to 21% between 2013 and 2014.

In addition, the number of people seriously injured by a drink-drive collision has fallen for the third consecutive year. This decrease (3%) is a promising sign, as is the reduction in the number of overall drink-drive casualties which has reached its lowest level on record (5,620). Brake cautiously welcomes this news, but urges the government to focus its attention on reducing drink-drive deaths as well as injuries on the roads.

Lucy Amos, research advisor for Brake, the road safety charity, said: “The statistics released today reveal a worrying level of stagnation in the number of people killed because of drink-driving, with the numbers remaining unchanged since the previous year. Drink-drive fatalities in the UK have now remained almost static since 2009 and it’s clear that decisive action is urgently needed to achieve further reductions in deaths and injuries. Through our work with bereaved families, we see the countless lives devastated when someone is killed by a drink driver, and it is for this reason that Brake is calling for a zero-tolerance drink-drive limit, the reintroduction of casualty reduction targets and greater prioritisation and resources for traffic policing to tackle the problem.”

Brake campaigns for an effective zero-tolerance drink-drive limit of 20mg alcohol per 100ml blood, through its not a drop, not a drag campaign.

Tweet us: @Brakecharity, #notadrop.


Notes to Editors:

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety charity, founded in 1995, 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.

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] DfT, Reported road casualties in Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2014 (final) and 2015 (provisional), 2016
[2] DfT, Estimates for reported road traffic accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2013 (second provisional) Self-reported drink and drug driving for 2013/14, 2014

Tags: Drink-Drive DfT Press Release