While the number of people killed in drink drive related collisions fell in 2015, the number of killed and seriously injured (KSI) casualties and drink drive collisions both rose.
The DfT’s final estimates for 2015 show that 200 people were killed in collisions in Great Britain where at least one driver was over the drink drive limit.
While the number of fatalities fell year-on-year by 40 (17%), the DfT says ‘although the central estimate for 2015 is lower than the figure for 2014, the difference is not statistically significant* and continues a period of stability recorded since 2010’.
The figure represents about 12% of all deaths in reported road accidents in 2015.
The figures also show that there were an estimated 1,370 KSIs in 2015 as a result of drink-drive collisions – a ‘statistically significant’ rise of 5% from 1,310 in 2014. This figure is also the first increase since 2011.
The estimated total number of collisions where at least one driver was over the alcohol limit rose by 2% to 5,730.
Comparing the 2015 figures to the 2010/14 average, the number of deaths fell by 16%, serious injuries by 1% and KSIs by 3% – although these figures are described by the DfT as ‘statistically insignificant’. The 8% fall in total casualties is, however, described as significant – as is the 8% fall in the number of collisions.
Looking at the relationship between alcohol and collisions, 1.6% of drivers involved in a road collision during 2015 failed a breath test. This figure rose to 12.9% between midnight and 4am on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
*We asked the DfT to clarify why this fall is not statistically significant and they confirmed it is because of the relatively small number of deaths (200). The DfT statistical bulletin also says: “The fatalities figure is an estimate based on coroners’ and prosecutors’ fiscal reports for 60% of the drivers or riders who were killed in road traffic accidents in 2015."
The RAC has described the 4% increase in the number of people killed or seriously injured as a ’cause for concern’.
Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “We have seen a stubborn, plateauing of the drink-drive casualty figures since 2010 but this could show the start of a worrying trend in the opposite direction and is further evidence that we can’t afford to be complacent about drink-drive levels in the UK.
“It is difficult to say whether this is down to a hard core of persistent drink-drivers who appear to believe they are above the law or if drinking and driving is becoming more acceptable to a broader group.
“We call on the Government to review the drink-drive limit in England and Wales and to draw on evidence from Scotland to review the merits of reducing the blood alcohol limit following their experience."
The road safety charity Brake is calling for the drink drive limit to be lowered ‘urgently’.
Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for Brake, said: "Selfish drink drivers destroy lives and inflict appalling suffering on families up and down the country. There will be more, unrecorded, casualties involving drivers impaired by alcohol but under the current limit.
"The drink drive limit in England and Wales is the second highest in Europe and must be lowered urgently. In addition, savage cuts to road traffic policing must be reversed and enforcement increased to crack down on dangerous drink drivers."