Alcohol to carry new drink driving warnings

The alcohol industry has a prime opportunity to help reduce the number of drink-drive incidents on UK roads, following an agreement that will see health information printed on 80% of alcohol labels by 2013.

To help better inform the public and aid healthcare programmes, the alcohol industry has agreed to publish the information following consultation with numerous bodies. Now, another body, the Institute of Advanced Motorists, is calling in the industry to add in more information before the scheme is launched.

The IAM is asking for drink drive warnings to be included on the alcohol labels, advising of the dangers of drink driving. This could follow the lead set by the tobacco industry, where cigarette packets include health warnings too.

The suggestion has been made by the IAM because drink driving remains a serious issue in the UK. In 2009, one in five motorists killed in crashes were over the drink drive limit. In more than 10,000 drink-drive incidents, 380 people were killed and drink-driving also seriously injured 1,490 others.

What's even more startling is that over 1000 of the 10,000 drink-drive incidents in 2009 occurred between 7am and noon – suggesting that many drivers are not aware of the dangers of the morning after effect either. Heavy alcohol consumption the night before can leave drivers still over the limit the next day, something many simply don't realise.

IAM chief executive Simon Best said: "Drink driving is an epidemic on our roads. Every one of 2009's drink-driving incidents was preventable. That 380 people died in crashes that year, simply because they didn't heed the warnings and the law, is tragic.”

As the festive season approaches, anti drink drive campaigns will start to air, but the IAM wants this to be made permanent. "We want to see clear drink driving warnings that are just as hard hitting as health warnings on cigarette labels.

“If the drinks industry softens the road safety and health messages on its labels then the case for a compulsory system of labelling would be compelling. The message to everyone is don't drink and drive."

Drink drive campaigns will be rolled out over the next few weeks, raising awareness once again of just how dangerous it is. But this should become permanent, says the IAM, with drink drive warnings on alcohol labels to ensure people do not forget.

Over the next few months, it will continue lobbying the alcohol industry, to try and make the warning messages about this UK “epidemic” on our roads permanent.