Brake survey indicates a growing public demand for the government to reduce the drink-drive limit

9 December 2016

Contact: news@brake.org.uk

  • More than three quarters (78%) of drivers think the current drink drive limit is too high
  • More than half of drivers (54%) think the drink drive limit should be dropped to an effective zero tolerance
  • 8 in 10 drivers think their driving is affected at around the current drink drive limit or below
  • More than 40 percent of drivers think their driving ability is affected by just one unit of alcohol

A new survey by Brake, the road safety charity and Direct Line has found that nearly 80% (78%) of drivers think the drink drive limit is too high and more than half (54%) of drivers think the drink drive limit should be reduced to an effective zero tolerance limit of 20mg/100ml.

The results of the survey suggest that the rest of the United Kingdom should follow Scotland’s lead in reducing the drink-drive limit. Currently the rest of the United Kingdom has the highest drink-drive limit in Europe with 80mg/100ml blood, whilst Scotland reduced their limit to 50mg/100ml in December 2014.

One in eight (13%) of road deaths on the United Kingdom’s roads [1] are caused by drink-driving which is why Brake calls for a zero tolerance drink-drive limit. This is in line with evidence that even 20-50mg/100ml alcohol in your blood makes you at least three times more likely to be killed in a crash [2]. A zero tolerance drink-drive limit may help stop the estimated 65 deaths a year caused by drivers who drink but are under the legal limit [3].

The drivers of the survey also felt that drinking some alcohol, which would’ve meant they were under the current drink-drive limit, would impair their driving. Eight in ten of drivers surveyed (79%) felt that having the equivalent of one pint of beer would affect their driving.

Case study

Daniel Glynn, from Kent, will never forget Christmas 2010. He spent Christmas Day in hospital, undergoing emergency surgery for injuries he suffered because he had caught a lift home from a party on Christmas Eve with a friend who'd been drinking.

They'd been out celebrating, and Daniel knew his friend had had a drink but didn't realise how much and accepted a lift anyway. Travelling back, Daniel's friend lost control and the vehicle span across the road and hit a tree at full force. Police reported the car was unrecognisable and the engine was found five metres away.

Daniel was taken to hospital, and was told he had broken all the ribs on his left side, his knee cap was badly damaged and his bowel had been ruptured. Daniel had to return to hospital a number of times for further treatment and repeat a year at college because of time out due to his injuries.

Daniel said: “I was naive. I thought it wouldn't happen to me, but I now know drink driving, or getting a lift with a drink driver, is never worth the risk. My life was turned upside down, and I went through months of terrible agony that could have easily been avoided. But I was one of the lucky ones: it could easily have ended both our lives. Now I'd never catch a lift with a driver who's been drinking, not even one drink, and I'd urge everyone to make the same commitment. Speaking up about drink driving isn't always easy, but it could save a life or prevent a horrific injury, so please speak out to friends and family, and if you're a driver, commit to never, ever, drinking alcohol before getting behind the wheel.”

Gary Rae, director of communications and campaigns for Brake, said: “Drink-driving, despite being more socially unacceptable, is still a major issue on our roads, especially as our current, legal drink-drive limit in England and Wales is the highest in Europe. This sends a confusing message and asks drivers to guess if they are under the limit.

Equally confusing is the stance of secretary of state for transport Chris Grayling, who said that the drink-drive limit wouldn’t be cut to penalise motorists for ‘having a glass of wine at the pub’. Cutting the drink-drive limit would be putting road users’ safety first and the reality is that a small amount of alcohol can impair your driving, as the evidence shows.

The only safe choice is not to drink at all before driving. The government need to do more and following Scotland in reducing the limit would be a start. However, only by having a zero tolerance approach to drink-driving will ever see a law which is clear to everyone. Here at Brake we are appealing to the public in the run up to Christmas to show zero tolerance on drink driving, and make the Brake Pledge to never get behind the wheel after any amount of alcohol.”

Rob Miles, director of car insurance at Direct Line said: “There is no excuse for drink-driving and so we urge those enjoying the festivities to plan their onward travel in advance by making use of public transport, taking a taxi, staying overnight or asking a sober friend or relative to pick them up”.

Make the Brake Pledge to never get behind the wheel after any amount of alcohol and watch Tina Wood’s story here

[1] DfT, Reported road casualties in Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2014 (final) and 2015 (provisional),  2016

[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] 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)

[ENDS]

Notes to Editors:

About Brake

Brake is a national road safety and sustainable transport charity, founded in 1995, that exists to stop the needless deaths, serious injuries and pollution occurring on our roads every day. We work to make streets and communities safer for everyone, and care for families bereaved and injured in road crashes. Brake's vision is a world where there are zero road deaths and injuries, and people can get around in ways that are safe, sustainable, healthy and fair. We do this by pushing for legislative change 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.

About Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

Direct Line general insurance policies are underwritten by U K Insurance Limited, Registered office: The Wharf, Neville Street, Leeds LS1 4AZ. Registered in England and Wales No 1179980. U K Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority.

Direct Line and UK Insurance limited are both part of Direct Line Insurance Group plc.

Customers can find out more about Direct Line products or get a quote by calling 0345 246 3761 or visiting www.directline.com