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Drink-drive deaths on UK roads highest for over a decade

The number of UK road deaths caused by drinking and driving has risen to the highest level recorded since 2009. 

Drink driving

Newly released government figures have revealed deaths caused by drink driving in Britain have risen to their highest level since 2009, with a ‘significant increase’ over the previous year’s records. They show that young male drivers from Wales are the most likely to be killed or injured as a result of driving while under the influence of alcohol.  

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The statistics relate to the year 2021, which are the latest figures available and have been published by the government this week. The official charts show that between 240 and 280 people were killed in in 2021 by collisions where at least one of the drivers involved was over the drink-drive limit. This is an 11 percent increase from a decade ago and represents 17 percent of all road deaths in the UK. 

However, overall drink-drive related injuries have fallen by a massive 32 percent since 2011, which is thought to be due to improved car safety. Overall, an estimated 6,740 people were either killed or injured when at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit in 2021. 

UK drink drive deaths chart.

The percentage of all casualties which occurred in drink-drive collisions was the highest in Wales at 7.3 percent followed by England at 5.2 percent and Scotland at 4.1 percent - despite Scotland having a lower drink-drive limit. Within the English regions, the casualty rates varied from 7.0 percent in the East Midlands to 2.5 percent in Greater London.

In 2021, 79 percent of drink-drive accidents involved male drivers, and those aged between 16 and 24 were more likely to take the risk. 

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “These figures are extremely worrying and demonstrate that the battle against drink-driving is far from over. This should be a wake-up call to both the Government and police forces about the need for effective enforcement, including increased roadside breathalysing. Our message to drivers is simple yet stark: drink-driving ruins lives.”

What is the drink-driving limit in the UK? We’ve explained the letter of the law

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