Has drink driving lost its ‘socially unacceptable’ stigma?

12.00 | 9 October 2012 | | 6 comments

With an increase in drink drive deaths in 2011, the IAM has questioned whether drink driving has lost its “socially unacceptable” stigma.

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, is calling for higher profile drink drive campaigns backed by more enforcement.

The IAM says that figures published in ‘Reported Road Casualties Great Britain 2011’ show that more than half the increase in road deaths in 2011 were alcohol related.

Other figures from the annual report include: 9,990 reported road casualties occurred when someone was driving while over the legal limit; 1,570 people were killed or seriously injured in drink drive collisions, an increase of 5% compared to 2010; 70% of pedestrians, 71% of cyclists, 58% of car drivers and 43% of motorcyclists killed after 10pm were over the drink-drive limit; and 17-24 year-olds are more than twice as likely to be involved in a drink drive collision as any other age group.

In contrast to the above, the number of convictions for drink driving fell from 58,700 in 2010 to 54,900 in 2011.

Simon Best, IAM chief executive, said: “With fewer traffic police on the road, fewer convictions and more deaths, it is clear that it’s not just Scotland that needs to have a broad debate on drink driving.

“With ‘beat the breathalyser’ pills legally on sale in the UK and the disproportionate number of younger drink drivers, I’m worried that drink driving may be losing its stigma.

“We must act now to stop last year’s increase becoming a trend through the use of higher profile drink driving campaigns – and not just at Christmas – backed up with enforcement targeting those drivers who cause death and injury, as well as the distress and grief of friends and family. Drivers need to know that they will get caught if they mix alcohol and driving.”

For more information contact the IAM on 020 8996 9777.


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    Paul M

    I do not believe that there is any statiscially significant evidence that removal of speed cameras has led to increases in accidents at those sites, which is their only area of influence. If Paul M has any, please disclose it.

    Idris Francis Petersfield
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Jan is of course right – the chances of being caught have fallen as police patrols have fallen.

    But from what I see and read, so many of the younger generation could not care less about the laws on drugs either. The increase in drink driving might well be part and parcel of the worsening trends in all sorts of behaviour. One factor might well be the rising unemployment and unemployability of our growing under-educated underclass.

    Idris Francis Petersfield
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Don’t know where Jan gets the idea that “there has been too much concentration on ‘speeding’, nor do I much like the use of quote marks around the word. Speed cameras have been decommissioned all over the country, leading to large increases in fatalities, leading in turn to some of those cameras, such as in Oxfordshire, being turned back on.

    Fact of the matter is that the law and the police and the courts are all far too lenient on driving offences. If you walked around in public with a loaded shotgun without the breach broken, you would be in a lot of trouble especially if it went off and killed someone. A motor car is in pretty much the same class as a shotgun when it comes to lethality in the hands of the careless, so why do we treat it differently?

    As for the drink limit, 50mg/ml is the standard used across most of Europe, America and Australasia. Time we did the same.

    Paul M, London
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Of course it hasn’t lost its stigma, the plain and simple fact is that there are not enough police on the streets to enforce the offence so ‘when the cats away the mice will play’. There has been too much concentration on ‘speeding’ as the cause of accidents only because it is easy/cheap to enforce, so drink/drug driving has been sidelined. Drivers know they are most likely to ‘get away with it’ so they take the chance and succeed most of the time and it is going to get worse now that policing has become reactive as opposed to proactive.

    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Drink driving must be the single most important issue in road safety and it is peer pressure that saves the greatest number of lives. Only when peer pressure fails do Police have to act. It is therefore vital to maintain public support through education, such as Mike’s good work.

    Driving above the current alcohol limit is so dangerous that the evidence is easy to demonstrate and this is the best weapon to mobilise public support to create the peer pressure that will save the greatest number of lives.

    I know a group of retired engineers who meet up at country pubs for a walk, followed by a pint and a bite to eat. They support the current d/d limit but their support, and millions like them, may be put in jeopardy if the d/d limit is lowered. Lower public support leading to reduced peer pressure could result in more people killed.

    The experiment in Scotland may provide some answers.

    Dave Finney – Slough
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    I cannot answer if drink driving has lost its stigma, but what I will say is that I totally agree with IAM and will be working with them in the near future.

    I’ve said this many times on these forums, and I’ll say it again…Because of driving attitudes being established before the age of driving, it’s imperative that young people are made aware of the dangers of drink driving, before they start to drive, all year around…

    Our campaign is accredited by LASER Alliance (hosted by ROSPA), supported by PACTS and ‘liked’ by IAM.

    There is no excuse for the rise in fatalities due to drink driving and young people’s attitudes need to be changed to have a long term effect to reduce the number of drink drive fatalities on the roads.

    Mike, from http://dontbethatsomeone.co.uk (London)
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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