More than a quarter (26%) of motorists aged between 17-24 years either think or know they have driven while over the drink-drive limit, according to research carried out for the RAC Report on Motoring 2015.
The figure, which equates to 706,000 drivers, is a 5% increase on last year’s findings and 6% higher than the equivalent figure for all motorists.
The findings come from a large scale, in-depth survey of 1,555 motorists from all age groups. shows.
8% of young drivers surveyed said they are sure they have driven when over the limit, up 3% on 2014 – and a further 18% (16% in 2014) think they may have done so. 7% said they committed the offence shortly after having a drink while 13% believe they may have done so the morning after drinking.
The data also indicates that young men aged 17-24 years are more likely to have driven while over the limit than women of the same age. This tendency is also seen among the 25 to 44-year-old age group, with 15% of male drivers saying they have driven over the limit shortly after drinking in contrast to 9% of women.
13% of young drivers aged 24 and under say they have been in a car with a driver they have suspected to be over the limit shortly after drinking, in contrast to the 6% average across all age groups, a 5% increase on 2014.
David Bizley, RAC chief engineer, said: “Official figures show younger drivers are more likely to be involved in serious road-traffic accidents so it is extremely worrying to see an increase in both the number of 17 to 24-year-olds admitting to driving under the influence of drink and illicit drugs in the last year and also in those saying they have been a passenger in a car driven by someone over the limit.
“The latter may reflect the greater level of first-hand experience of drink-driving that younger motorists have, but is nevertheless a cause for concern.
As a result of their findings, the RAC is urging the government to do more to tackle to problem.
David Bizley added: “The coalition government did not fulfil its pledge to publish a green paper on young driver safety which was disappointing. The RAC therefore calls on the current Government to address this by prioritising proposals on how safety among younger motorists can be improved.
“We would like to see an open-minded approach to tackling the problem that includes new technical solutions such as telematics, best practice from overseas like graduated licensing and encouraging better driving through better information and education.”
The report also highlights a similar drug driving problem among young drivers, who are the most likely to drive under the influence of class A or B drugs.
While only 2% of all motorists say they have done so, among those aged 17-24 years the number rises to 7%.
The report also found that 6% of all motorists say they have driven under the influence of drugs – including class C tranquilisers and legal prescription drugs – in the past 12 months, up from last year’s 2%. The equivalent statistic for 17-24 year-olds was 13%.