Mixed messages in drink-drive results

12.19 | 4 August 2011 | | 3 comments

DfT figures for 2010 and the results of the ACPO 2011 summer campaign give mixed messages about drink driving in the UK.

While the DfT last week reported that deaths caused by drink-driving fell 35% (from 380 in 2009 to 250 in 2010), ACPO’s 2011 summer drink and drug drive campaign revealed an 8% increase in the number of drivers who tested positive compared with last summer.

According to the DfT report, ‘Reported road casualties in Great Britain: 2010 provisional estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol level’, released 4 August, serious injuries from drink-drive incidents fell 18% to 1,230 and slight injuries were down 19% at 8,220.

Norman Baker, transport minister, said: “The provisional figures for 2010 suggest the number of drink-drive deaths is now 83% lower than 30 years ago. This is very welcome.

“However, we are determined to continue to take firm action against the small minority of drivers who still ignore the limit.

“That is why we are taking forward a package of measures to streamline enforcement against both drink and drug-driving, including approving portable evidential breath testing equipment and drug testing devices which will speed up the testing process and free up police time.”

However, results from ACPO’s summer drink and drug driving campaign are in stark contrast. On top of an 8% increase in the number of drivers who tested positive, the number of young drivers testing positive increased 15%.

Of the 88,629 people tested during the month long campaign in June, 5,373 (6.06%) tested positive, refused or failed a breath test. That compares to 5.6% during the same time last year.

Chief Constable Phil Gormley, ACPO lead on roads policing, said: “Whilst there has been a fall in the number of breath tests carried out in this year’s campaign, the increase in the percentage of positive test shows that we are targeting the offending drivers more effectively.

“Once again, the figures clearly demonstrate that if you drink and drive you are significantly more likely to be involved in a collision and lose your licence. It is worrying that younger drivers continue to drink and drive and we will be redoubling our efforts to address this unacceptable behaviour.

“We have increased the number of tests we conducted to detect people driving under the influence of drugs and this is an area where we are working with Government to improve our capabilities through reformed legislation and procedures. We view this as an important area for casualty reduction and will continue to pursue motorists who drive whilst under the influence of drugs, endangering their fellow road users.”

For more information about the ACPO summer campaign contact the ACPO Press Office on 020 7084 8946/47/48. Click here to read: ‘Reported road casualties in Great Britain: 2010 provisional estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol level’.


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    Year on year comparisons only work well when there is consistency on the other factors. As several police forces have significantly changed their drink-drive campaign strategy i.e. who they have been targeting, in each of the last 3 years, any trends should be seen in this context and taken with a pinch of salt.

    Pat, Wales
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    Alan, aren’t all of the above figures “good”?

    1) Numbers of drink-drive deaths are down.
    2) Numbers of drunk drivers caught are up.
    3) Numbers of innocent people subjected to Police stop and test are down.

    As a country, we simply do not have the resources to carry on as before wasting taxpayers money on unproven policies so we must start to consider cost-benefit ratio.

    Dave Finney – Slough
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    Perhaps if the government are serious about tackling the problem and many other road safety issues they should ensure that all police forces have a properly established and well staffed Road Policing Unit that will be out there throughout the year 24/7 not conducting short term campaigns. Whilst laudable it does not reach the regular law breakers.

    Alan Hale – South Gloucestershire Council Road Safety Team
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