Drink drive stats lead to calls for action from stakeholders

12.00 | 5 August 2016 | | 4 comments

Final figures for 2014 show that 240 people were killed in collisions where at least one driver was over the drink drive limit in Great Britain, unchanged from 2013.

A number of stakeholders have expressed disappointment over the figures and are calling for more to be done to tackle the issue of drink driving.

Released yesterday (4 August), the figures mean that around 13% of all road deaths in 2014 were drink drive related, again unchanged from a year earlier.

The figures do however show a statistically significant decrease in the number of seriously injured casualties in drink drive collisions, which fell by 3% to 1,070.

In terms of gender, 77% of those killed or seriously injured (KSI) by drink-drive collisions during 2014 were male. 

Focusing on longer term trends, the DfT says that due to the uncertainty associated with drink drive deaths, it cannot be concluded that there has been any change in drink drive deaths since 2010.

The report also publishes first provisional estimates for 2015 which suggest there were between 200 and 290 deaths in drink drive accidents.

The RAC is calling for a renewed effort to reduce the number of alcohol-related road deaths.  

Pete Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, said: “We need as a society to break through this plateau and once again consistently reduce needless, alcohol-related road deaths in the coming years.

“That means both renewed efforts from law enforcement and changes in attitudes from individual motorists who are prepared to break the law in this way, as well as their families and friends who may be able to prevent them getting behind the wheel.”

PACTS describes the figures as worrying and has also called for stronger action to be taken, including a full analysis of the impact of the lower limit in Scotland.

David Davies, executive director, said: “PACTS supports an increase in drink-drive education and publicity by the DfT, more support from the pub and drink industry to promote alcohol-free drinks and named driver campaigns, and better enforcement of drink driving by the police.”

The road safety charity Brake says ‘decisive action’ is required to overcome the ‘stagnation’ in the figures.

Lucy Amos, research advisor for Brake, said: “The statistics 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 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.”

IAM RoadSmart says after decades of good progress, the disappointing plateau seen over the last five years is not acceptable.

Tim Shallcross, head of technical policy at IAM RoadSmart, said: “The Government must get to grips with five years of disappointing figures now. It needs to show stronger leadership to really drive down road deaths and serious injuries in the future. 

“More action on drink driving, more on-road enforcement of driving standards and more publicity and education are urgently needed if we are to return to the gains made before 2010."




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    Suppose for one minute that the figures instead showed that around 13% of all road deaths in 2014 involved a white vehicle. Would we immediately call for white vehicles to be outlawed to save lives? Some of us might first ask what proportion of all vehicles on the road are white, to help us evaluate the data. What if we found that 20% of all vehicles on the roads are white – and are thus significantly underrepresented in fatal collisions? Has anyone ever asked what percentage of all drivers on the roads are above the drink-drive limit?

    Charles, England
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    From previous statistics it would apear that some latitude has been used and some presumptions and assumptions have been made when it comes to the degree of drink driving offenders. Therefore are the figures in this report as a result of taking into account these presumptions and assumtions and then putting numbers or should I say meat on them. It does say that the final figures are at best estimates? If for example there is an incident where the perpetrator drives off is there not a presumtion by police or others that the driver must have been illegally drunk or at least under the influence of drink or drugs and has driven off in order to avoid detection and punishment. Which is it? Drink or drugs as they are seperate stats. A presumtion of fact is not necessarly the truth. It seems that out of 1900 or so fatalities that such a large proportion was caused by one element only. If in fact that is the case and the stats are true then surely it is more evidence that the present law is not working and needs nil by mouth legislation.

    R.Craven Blackpool
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    What would be an interesting metric is the amount of drivers who have *caused* a fatal accident, who were incapacitated by more than one intoxicating substance.

    The one event that always sticks in my mind happened just over two years ago, two chaps coming home from a party ended up driving into street furniture at approximately 70mph – both ended up dead.

    Both the driver and passenger were above the drink drive limit, and additionally, had traces of cannabis* in their system

    *I’m not too sure whether it was traces of the metabolite or traces of active THC that were found

    David Weston, Corby
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    Do we know whether the 13% of all road deaths in 2014 that were drink drive related over-represent or under-represent the population of over-the-drink-limit drivers on the road? E.g. if 5% of drivers are over the alcohol limit, then it would seem that alcohol plays a part – but OTOH if 20% are over the limit then the solution might be less obvious. Without knowing the part alcohol plays, it is impossible to know where the problem lies, let alone be able to formulate rational ideas for how best to tackle it.

    Something else we need more detail on is to what extent the alcohol element was a causal, rather than coincidental, factor. E.g. if a 0% alcohol driver jumps a red light and t-bones and kills a blameless (but over-the-limit) driver in the stream of traffic crossing the junction on green, that will be recorded as drink related death. The current data is misleading and inadequate.

    Charles, England
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