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Drink drive deaths up but other casualties down in 2013

Friday 7th August 2015

Final estimates for 2013 show that while drink-drive related deaths increased slightly in 2013, the number of seriously injured and casualties of all severities both decreased; and provisional figures for 2014 pave the way for a likely increase in drink drive deaths.

The 2013 figures, published yesterday (6 Aug) by the DfT, show that between 220 and 260 people were killed in collisions in Great Britain where at least one driver was over the drink drive limit, with a central estimate of 240 deaths.

The DfT says that due to ‘uncertainty in the estimates’, fatalities should be regarded as having remained unchanged since 2010, and that the increase from 230 (+4%) deaths in 2012 is ‘not statistically significant’.

Around 14% of all deaths in reported road traffic accidents in 2013 involved at least one driver over the drink drive limit.

The number of seriously injured casualties decreased by 8% from 1,200 in 2012 to 1,100 in 2013, while total casualties of all severities were down 17% to 8,270 - the lowest total on record.

Provisional estimates for 2014, however, show that there were between 240 and 340 deaths in drink drive accidents.

The IAM expressed disappointment at what is calls ‘a stagnation in progress since 2010’.

Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, said: “While good progress has been made over the years, we are very concerned that we may have reached a plateau and are not making much progress in further reducing alcohol related crashes.

“The new government has a great opportunity to set the agenda right at the start of the new administration and top of their list should be a consultation on reducing the drink drive limit in England and Wales to align with Scotland and most of the rest of Europe.”

Brake says Britain is ‘still failing to adequately tackle its drink drive problem’, and has reiterated its call for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive at Brake, said: “Education on drink driving is important, but it can only achieve so much. It seems we have reached a point where further meaningful reductions in devastating and needless drink drive deaths and serious injuries require more decisive action.

“Brake is calling for a zero-tolerance drink drive limit and greater priority and resourcing for traffic policing: evidenced steps we’re confident would help tackle this menace.

“Scotland has already seen promising signs of reducing drink drive rates after lowering its limit. In this context, it is unacceptable for the Westminster government to maintain the highest drink drive limit in Europe.”

The RAC is calling for measures to deter young people from drink driving.

David Bizley, RAC chief engineer, said: “The sad and all-too-familiar fact is that younger drivers still account for a disproportionate number of all drink-drive casualties.

“A harmonised drink-drive limit across the whole UK would help make the law clearer for all motorists, and is something motorists we want to see, but what these figures highlight is the need for a concerted, focused effort on encouraging and incentivising younger motorists to recognise the dangers of driving under the influence.

“The coalition Government shelved plans for a green paper on reducing risks to young drivers, but the need to find solutions is as pressing as ever.

“Education, new technologies such as telematics and graduated licensing potentially all have roles to play.”

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The 2013 drink-drive death figures - though "final" - are still estimates, based on incomplete data. The DfT's statement that drink-drive fatalities "should be regarded as not having increased since 2010" should therefore be taken seriously.

PACTS would agree that the figures are too high and more should be done to combat drink-driving. The 10-year delay in getting a roadside evidential breath testers through Home Office Type Approval is a scandal. But the increasing use of statistical significance test by the DfT to assess small annual changes in casualty numbers is to be welcomed.
David Davies

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