The Department of Transport recently released figures showing 2013 as the first year deaths caused by drink driving had increased since 2006. This has lead to the road safety charity Brake to call for a zero tolerance approach to alcohol levels in the blood when driving.
The 2013 figures are startling, showing 240 deaths on British roads because of drink driving. This is 10 up from 2012 and the 2014 figures are not looking good either with provisional figures between 240 and 340 deaths. The small positive is that injuries are down, so although the number of deaths has sadly increased the number of people being hurt in smaller accidents is down overall.
The really shocking fact is that most people involved in these accidents are men and a worrying proportion seem to be younger. The hope that the practice of drinking and driving was perhaps a habit for older drivers who did it when they were younger sadly didn’t hold true. In fact over a quarter of people involved in a drink driving accident causing injury or death were between 17 and 24 years old.
At the moment Britain has the highest tolerance for alcohol in the bloodstream of any European country. Scotland have been trialling a lower legal level and have had some success in lowering the fatality number. In countries like France it is a legal requirement to carry 2 breathalysers in the car at all times which shows a very serious approach to the problem. Safety campaigners are calling for a zero tolerance approach to help shock drivers into taking notice and simply avoiding alcohol completely if they are driving.
The problem for many people is that they do, in fact, avoid drinking at all when they drive and perhaps opt to stay over at a friends or hotel and then drive home in the morning. It is this early driving that can lead to otherwise law abiding drivers finding themselves over the limit at the wheel.
There is no doubt, a tougher stance on drink driving does make a big difference, but it does need to be well advertised to make sure everyone knows about it. Otherwise the arrest stats will look great and the accident rate may not fall while the people that might have a drink but be under the old limit get the message. The French idea of carrying breathalysers in the car would certainly help those morning drivers make sure they are safe before heading home when they certainly would never intend to drink drive. Calls for more advertising are also being made and this could work well for the younger people as they become an increasing concern.