Drink-driving accidents persist as road policing fails

New official figures show drink-drivers caused 15 per cent of fatal collisions in 2020 - up from 13 per cent in 2019

Drink-drive

The proportion of fatal road traffic collisions caused by drink-drivers has risen by two per cent, the latest official figures reveal.

New provisional Government data shows that in 2020 (the latest year on record), drink-drivers caused an estimated 15 per cent of fatal accidents – up from 13 per cent in 2019.

An estimated total of 220 people were killed in accidents involving drink-driving in 2020 – down from 230 in 2019. It should be noted that 2020 saw far lower traffic levels than 2019 due to Covid lockdowns.

The total number of crashes where at least one driver was over the alcohol limit was 4,620 in 2020, equating to an average of 12 crashes a day. Of these, an estimated 1,070 were serious accidents – an average of 26 serious accidents a week and only a slight decrease from 1,390 in 2019.

It comes after emergency service inspectors and former traffic cops slammed modern road policing, with details emerging of low morale, operational failures and severe mismanagement.

Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM Roadsmart, commented: “There is no one simple answer to reducing these figures, but IAM RoadSmart believes a much smarter package of measures is needed from the Government including a lower drink-drive limit to reinforce good behaviour, fast-track of evidential roadside testing machines to release police resources and tailored approaches to help drivers with alcohol problems.  

“Rehabilitation courses work, and we believe all those convicted of drink-driving should be sent on one automatically rather than having to opt in. More use of alcolocks – which require the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting or continuing to operate the vehicle – and extra penalties such as vehicle forfeiture could all be part of a more joined-up approach to the problem.”

Hunter Abbott, managing director of breathalyser firm AlcoSense and member of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety, added: “Police carried out the lowest number of breath tests on record [in 2020] – nearly 50,000 fewer than in 2019.

“Yet research shows a significant rise in alcohol consumption at home during lockdown, increasing the likelihood of ‘morning after’ drink driving. Police should also be testing more drivers involved in an accident. In 2020 this had declined to 39 per cent compared with 54 per cent in 2010.”

Find out more about the drink-drive limit in the UK here...

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