While the overall number of road deaths reduced by 10% in the 12-months to March 2013, the number of people killed in drink drive collisions in 2012 increased by 26% – from 230 in 2011 to 290 in 2012.
The contrasting figures are revealed in two sets of statistics published by the DfT today (1/8/13).
As well as the fall in road deaths – from 1,870 to 1,680 – Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: Quarterly Provisional Estimates Q1 2013 shows that the number of people killed or seriously injured also fell to 23,660, a 6% year on year decrease.
Overall for year ending March 2013 there were 188,890 reported road casualties (slightly and seriously injured casualties, and fatalities), 7% fewer than for the year ending March 2012.
Total child casualties (ages 0-15yrs ) fell by 14% to 16,460, while the number killed or seriously injured was down 12% to 2,150.
A 23% drop in the number of pedal cycle casualties and 27% fall in motorcycle casualties during Q1 2013 have been put down to the much colder weather compared with Q1 2012.
In contrast to the significant increase in drink drive related fatalities in 2012, Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: Estimates for accidents involving illegal alcohol levels: 2012 (provisional) and 2011 (final) also reveals a 5% decrease in seriously injured drink drive casualties in 2012.
There were 220 fatal drink drive accidents in 2011, resulting in 230 deaths, the lowest number since detailed reporting began in 1979.
Among those killed in drink drive crashes, the majority (68%) were drivers and riders over the legal alcohol limit. The remaining 32% were other road users, involved in the accident but not necessarily over the legal limit themselves.
Road Safety GB has called for a reduction in the drink drive limit as recommended in the North Review which was published in 2010.
James Gibson, Road Safety GB press & PR officer, said: "While we mustn’t see one year’s figures as a trend, the provisional number of drink drive fatalities for 2012 is clearly disappointing.
"Road Safety GB continues to support the lowering of the legal alcohol limit and took an active part in the North Review process. A reduction in the limit would make many drivers rethink their current behaviour and encourage more motorists to abstain from alcohol completely if they’re driving. This continues to be a missed opportunity to save more lives on our roads.
"Driving under the influence of alcohol is directly responsible for hundreds of deaths on our roads each year, yet the UK retains one of the most lenient alcohol limits in Europe. Families and friends of the victims of drunk drivers will find this very difficult to comprehend."
Neil Greig, IAM director of policy and research, added: “The number of people killed or seriously injured by drink drivers is the real indicator of success in dealing with those who present the biggest danger on our roads.
“The IAM is concerned that despite continued police campaigns the message does not seem to be getting through to a minority of drivers.
“This increase shows the critical need for the DfT to reverse cuts in publicity funding and continue to ram home the message that drink driving kills.”
Click here to read either of the reports.