Charity calls on public to help stamp out drink driving during summer heatwave

26 July 2013

Brake, the road safety charity
T: 01484 559909 E: news@brake.org.uk

Road safety charity Brake is urging the public to speak out against drink driving this summer, as results from the Association of Chief Police Officers' June enforcement campaign are released.

5,170 of the 100,892 drivers breathalysed in the month-long crackdown (5%) failed the test: a slight drop in percentage compared with last year. Read the full results.

Drink drive casualties normally peak over the summer [1], and the current heatwave means people are especially likely to be out making the most of the weather, travelling to and from summer parties, BBQs and festivals. Brake is therefore calling on everyone to be particularly vigilant about all forms of drink driving and plan ahead to ensure they can get home safely.

Brake calls on drivers to never drive after drinking any amount of alcohol – not a drop - and appeals to everyone to look out for friends and family by speaking out against drink driving.

Brake is also renewing its calls for government to lower the drink drive limit in England and Wales, adopting a clear, zero tolerance approach, and give greater priority to traffic policing to ensure more breath tests are carried out.

The UK drink drive limit is 80mg alcohol per 100ml blood, the highest in Europe, which Brake believes encourages many to think that one or two drinks before driving is okay. Research shows just 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml blood increases crash risk by three times [2]. Recently Northern Ireland and Scotland have announced plans to reduce their limit to 50mg, while in Northern Ireland novice and at-work drivers will have a zero-tolerance limit of 20mg.

Read more about Brake's Not a drop, not a drag campaign.

JulieTownsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said:"Everyone wants to get out and enjoy the good weather while it lasts but that shouldn’t mean putting your life and the lives of others at risk. Research is clear that even small amounts of alcohol significantly increase your risk of crashing, so it just isn't worth risking a drink. We urge drivers to make a commitment to never drive after drinking any alcohol, to prevent horrific crashes and devastating casualties. And we encourage everyone to plan ahead to ensure they can get home safely from summer festivities, and speak out if anyone you know is tempted to drink and drive.

“Brake is also appealing to the government to move towards a zero-tolerance approach on drink driving, to send a clear message it should be none for the road"

Advice to drivers
There are plenty of alternatives to driving if you want to have a drink. Plan ahead for how you will get home by walking (if there's a safe route), taking public transport or booking a taxi. If you need to drive then decide on a designated driver who doesn't drink any alcohol at all, and make sure they stick to this.

Driving after drinking alcohol significantly increases your risk of crashing, potentially killing or injuring yourself, you passengers or someone else. Even if you feel sober after one drink, your reaction times will have slowed and your crash risk increased [3].

Don't drink if you are driving early the next morning. There's no way of knowing exactly how long it takes to sober up completely after drinking, but it's longer than many people think. As a rough guide you should allow at least one hour to absorb alcohol, plus at least one hour for each unit consumed - but it could take longer, so you should always leave extra time to be safe. If you've had a lot to drink you may be impaired for all of the following day.

Facts
One in seven deaths on UK roads are still caused by drink drivers over the current legal limit [4], 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 [5]. 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 [6].

Brake
Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 63 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education, events such as Road Safety Week (18-24 November 2013), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services

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.

[1] Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2011 annual report, Department for Transport, 2012
[2] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
[3] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011
[4] Department for Transport, 2011. Reported road casualties Great Britain 2010 annual report, London: Department for Transport
[5] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
[6] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011