Half Of Young Drivers Drive The Morning After A Heavy Night’s Drinking

Nearly half of young drivers (45%) admit taking to the road in the early morning after drinking a lot of alcohol the night before, disturbing research by Brake and Green Flag reveals today. Young people are nearly twice as likely as older drivers (26%) to run the risk of driving while still over the limit from the previous night.

As the Christmas party season gets under way, Brake and Green Flag are urging drivers to make sure they don’t drive the morning after a heavy night, and to limit themselves to one or two drinks if they have to drive early the next day.

Alcohol can stay in the body for a surprisingly long time. Drink any of the following and you probably won’t be safe to drive for about 13 hours from when you finish drinking: four double vodkas; or four pints of strong beer or cider (5%); or a bottle of 15% wine*1. That’s 1pm the next day if you finish drinking at midnight. This means a standard night out for many young people ending in the early hours can mean they’re still under the influence well into the next afternoon. For more information on how long different drinks stay in your system [ click here ]

In 2006, 540 people died and 1,960 were seriously injured in drink-drive crashes - seven deaths and serious injuries a day*2. Of the 90,000 convictions for drink-driving in 2006, nearly 20% were on their way to work or at worK*3.

In March 2007, 23-year-old Scott Easton killed a family of four while driving his van to work after a late night drinking. Easton was convicted of causing death by dangerous driving and was jailed for seven years after the court heard that alcohol combined with lack of sleep caused the crash, which happened at 8.40am on the A1 in North Yorkshire. The crash killed two parents and two of their sons, aged three and seven. Their third son, aged eight, was injured but survived. Police calculated Easton was still over the limit when he crashed.

Brake is calling on the Government to tackle drink-driving by:

  • Reducing the legal limit for alcohol to 20mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood (it is currently 80mg), as research shows that even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive safelY*4.
  • Giving police the power to conduct random breath testing, like that carried out in Australia, and provide funding for more traffic police to implement this.
  • Running a high-profile campaign to warn drivers of the dangers of driving the morning after drinking, particularly targeting young drivers.

Chrissie Young’s daughter Kayla Young was killed along with a friend when they were both just 13. A drink-driver hit them as they walked home together in May 2003. Chrissie, from Grimsby, says: “A drink-driver changed my life forever when they killed my daughter Kayla. Don’t risk driving the morning after a night out. If there’s any doubt in your mind that you may be over the limit, then don’t get behind the wheel. It is never worth running the risk of causing the agony and heartache that’s been suffered by my family since Kayla died.”

Stephen Meara-Blount, from Hull, was walking along a rural road with his brother and brother-in-law in January 2006 when a drink-driver hit them. Stephen was seriously injured in the crash and is still undergoing operations due to the severity of his injuries. His brother in law was injured and his brother was killed. Stephen says: “Please don’t ever consider drinking and driving, be it on the night or the morning after. Someone choosing to drink-drive completely altered my life and ended my brother’s – he was just 42. I have to live every day with the consequences of that person’s choice and the devastation they caused that day. Don’t take a chance on ruining your own life or someone else’s. If there’s any chance you still have alcohol in your system, don’t drive.”

Jools Townsend, head of education at Brake, says:

It is shocking that nearly half of young drivers will risk their own lives and endanger others by driving the morning after a heavy night’s drinking. The Government must do more to ensure people are not breaking the law out of ignorance. We need high-profile advertising on this issue and an increase in police powers so they can carry out random breath-tests. Our advice to drivers is simple. If you have to drive the next morning, limit yourself to no more than one or two drinks. And if you’re planning a really big night out over the festive period, make sure you don’t need to drive the next day. Never chance it - it’s not just your life you’ll be putting on the line.”

Abi Clark, spokesperson for Green Flag, says:

It’s essential that drivers stay fully alert at all times when on the road. At this time of year, it can be easy to get carried away in the festivities. We’re not saying don’t go out and have fun, but to put it simply, if you drink, you shouldn’t drive - on the night itself and early the next day.”

*1 - Based on an hour to absorb the alcohol and an hour per unit to eliminate it from the body – BUPA ‘A step-by-step guide to alcohol’

*2 - Road Casualties Great Britain, 2006 (Department for Transport 2007)

*3 - Avoid Training and Education, 2007

*4 - Department for Transport

7 December 2007 Staff

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