Drink-driving related deaths highest since 2010

Could an increase in roadside breathalyser tests reduce fatalities?

Have plummeting police numbers played a part in a surge in drink-drive deaths?

Department for Transport data shows that serious incidents and road fatalities related to drink driving are at their highest since 2010.

Latest figures show there were 250 deaths in 2017 in accidents where at least one driver was over the limit – a 9% rise from 2016.

Serious injuries also increased by just over 10%, from 1,250 to 1,380.

The sobering statistics come as the Christmas period looms, a time of year that typically sees a 20% rise in drink-drive accidents.

Are police cuts to blame?

The period from 2010 to 2017 saw full-time police officer numbers drop by 17%.

A declining force impacted roadside breath tests, with 411,000 fewer tests carried out in 2017 compared with 2010.

Of those breathalysed in 2017, 16% saw a positive alcohol reading, compared to 11% in 2010.

Hunter Abbott, member of the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety and Managing Director of breathalyser firm AlcoSense, pointed to a 30% decrease in road traffic officers between 2007 – 2017 and its damaging impact on road safety.

He said: “There’s a direct link between cuts in police budgets and increased drink drive deaths. Together with the highest drink drive limit in the developed world, it’s a lethal cocktail.

“A two-pronged strategy of better enforcement, plus a drink drive limit across the UK in-line with the rest of Europe, could save many lives each year.”

Call for zero tolerance

Joshua Harris, Director of Campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said: “How much longer must this continue before the Government acts?

“The current drink-driving limit gives a false impression that it is safe to drink and drive – this is a dangerous message and one that couldn’t be further from the truth. Research has shown even very small amounts of alcohol dramatically affect safe driving.

“The Government must act now to tackle the blight of drink driving by implementing a zero-tolerance limit, making clear to drivers that not a drop of alcohol is safe.”

The drink-drive limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood, while in Scotland and most of mainland Europe it is 50mg/100ml blood.

Make sure you stay safe on the road over Christmas by taking a look at our ultimate guide to drink driving laws.

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