590 Dead Drunk Drivers

Drink drive related deaths are on the increase again according to Government figures released today* (29th September). Provisional estimates for 2004 suggest that 590 people were killed, up from 580 drink drive related deaths in 2003. In response the RAC Foundation is calling for more traffic police to target drink drivers and get them off the roads.

The RAC Foundation is concerned that the reductions in the number killed and seriously injured in drink drive related accidents in the 1980s and early 1990s (from 9,000 to under 4,000) are no longer being made. The number killed fell to a low of 460 deaths in 1998 but has risen to an estimated 590 in 2004.

In 2003, 17 per cent of road deaths occurred when the driver was over the limit. In the early 1980’s around one third of drivers killed were over the limit.

Provisional figures show thirty five per cent of drivers and riders aged between 30-39 killed were over the limit compared to 30% of those aged 20-29 and 23% of those aged 16-19 in 2004.

Drivers aged less than thirty have the most drink drive accidents but the 17 – 24 age group are most at risk as they drive fewer miles. Seventeen to 19 year olds are more likely to have accidents so the proportion of those drink related will be lower.

Women are much less likely to be involved in drink drive accidents as drivers than men. Drink driving is a year round problem with November the worst month for casualties in 2003, followed by May.

Edmund King, executive director of the RAC Foundation said:

"We believe that more traffic police would be a deterrent to drink drivers. The lack of visible evidence of enforcement of drink driving adds to the perception that people can simply do it and get away with it. We need to see a greater police presence on our roads rather than just cameras."

"Seventy one per cent per cent of drink drive offenders in a survey** said that they were aware of anti drink drive publicity within the previous six months but had done it anyway.

"The facts prove that we have a growing problem with drinking and driving in the UK and that there is a need to understand why, despite years of campaigning, the problem still exists to this extent.

"The message is not getting through to some. It is horrifying to see that almost one fifth of drivers killed are over the legal limit.

"It is vital that we find the right method to convince people not to drink and drive. The RAC Foundation is convinced that apart from policing, one of the most effective methods is telling drivers about the real costs of drinking and driving and what they have to lose."

Consequences of a drink drive conviction may include:

  • A possible prison sentence and a fine of up to £5000.
  • A disqualification of at least a year.
  • Possible job loss - particularly if employment is dependent on a driving licence - 15 per cent of those convicted are made redundant. Even if a person doesn't need to drive for their job but has a company car then they will almost certainly lose it.
  • Loss of independence and increased reliance on public transport.
  • Increases in insurance premiums by up to five times the original amount after a drink drive ban.
  • An endorsement on the licence for 11 years - even when the disqualification period is over it may be difficult to hire a car for up to ten years

An evaluation of last year’s Festive drink drive campaign by the Scottish Executive showed that being banned from driving was seen as the most effective deterrent given the financial and personal implications. It also demonstrated, however, that over 90 per cent of drivers said that they would risk drinking and driving if they thought they were unlikely to be caught.

30 September 2005 Staff

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