In June, the police ran a national crackdown on drink-driving — one of two that takes place each year. In total, 100,892 drivers were stopped, and 5,170 (5.1%) drivers of those failed the breathalyser test and were over the drink-drive limit.
The only good thing that can be said about this result is that it was slightly better than last year, when 5.8% of drivers stopped during June were found to be over the limit.
Police say the campaign was aimed at tackling those under 25 and day-time drinkers who were attending barbeques or weekend events. There was a slight drop in the number of drivers under 25 who failed, from 1,327 in June 2012 to 1,290 last June.
National lead for roads policing, Chief Constable Suzette Davenport, said:
“The absolute disregard these drivers have for others, and the potential damage they cause to thousands of families up and down the country, is unacceptable.
We run two anti-drink and drug driving campaigns a year, alongside the work carried out by Government, and yet the public still have to pay millions of pounds in police and emergency service time because these drivers don’t get the message.”
I’ve written before about how the UK’s drink-drive limit — which is the highest in Europe, and one of the highest in the world — is virtually an invitation to drink and drive. Our 80mg/100ml limit means that for many people, it’s possible to drink enough to affect your driving quite badly, without being over the limit. At least, that’s my experience, after some dedicated testing with a borrowed police breathalyser.
According to road safety charity Brake, drink-drive casualties normally peak over the summer, probably thanks to an increase in day-time drinking, BBQs, music festivals and so on. Like me, Brake advocates a lower drink-drive limit, highlighting the following facts:
- One in seven deaths on UK roads are caused by drivers over the legal limit
- Research shows just 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml blood increases crash risk by three times
- Drivers with 20-50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood are three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol — because even if they are not at fault, their judgement and ability to react correctly is reduced by alcohol.
There’s only one sensible solution, which is a zero tolerance alcohol limit, which in practical terms equates to a 20mg/100ml blood alcohol limit.
At the very least, the UK’s limit should be reduced to 50mg/100ml, and it’s worth noting that both Scotland and Northern Ireland have lowered their limits,suggesting that Westminster’s decision not to is purely a result of the government’s determination to pander to voters, at the expense of road safety.