Number of drunk drivers in accidents reaches 10-year high

Number of drunk drivers in accidents reaches 10-year high
Official figures reveal there has been a rise in motorists failing a drink-drive breath test for the first time in 10 years.

According to the data from the Department for Transport (DfT), the number of drunk drivers involved in an accident in 2015 was around 3,450.

This is an increase on the 3,227 motorists who failed the breath test after a crash in 2014.

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Previous records from the DfT show the total had fallen every year from a high of 6,397 in 2005.

The RAC said that a drop-off in awareness-raising campaigns for drink-driving could be behind the rise.

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Nick Lyes, public affairs manager for the motoring organisation, said: “Concern about drivers who are over the limit has also fallen in recent years, which may suggest the message over the seriousness of the consequences of drink-driving has started to become lost.

“Successive campaigns over a number of years have been effective in making drink-driving more socially unacceptable, but clearly a focus needs to remain on this so that accident rates as a result of driving under the influence do not now start rising on a more regular basis.”

The DfT figures also chime with research published in the 2016 RAC Report on Motoring.

This showed that there had been a softening of attitudes among motorists surrounding drink-driving.

In the research, 6% of motorists admitted to driving over the limit over the last year, up from 3% in 2012.

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Meanwhile, the number of people who are sure they have not driven over the limit has dropped from 89% in 2012 to 80% in 2016.

The RAC added that the breath test figures would “add to the argument” that the drink-drive limit in England and Wales should be brought into line with Scotland.  

The Scottish Government reduced the alcohol limit for drivers from 80mg to 50mg per 100ml of blood in December 2014.

But the legal level in England and Wales remains at the 80mg level.

The DfT data also showed there has been no significant reduction in traffic accident fatalities since 2011. A total of 1,730 people were killed on Britain's roads in 2015.

Although this represents a decrease of 45 fatalities from the previous year, the DfT said this change was probably due to “natural variation”.

A DfT spokesman said officials are working with safety groups on “common sense proposals” that balance tougher penalties for dangerous driving with help for road users to stay safe.

Copyright Press Association 2016. Motoring News articles do not reflect the RAC's views unless clearly stated.