Currently reading: Less enforcement cited as reason for no significant drop in drink-driving deaths since 2010
Number of accidents in which at least one driver was over the alcohol limit rose by 4% in 2018; number of roadside breath tests has more than halved since 2009
2 mins read
12 February 2020

The number of people killed in collisions involving a driver over the alcohol limit hasn't dropped significantly since 2010, new figures for 2018 from the Department of Transport have revealed. 

Around 13% of UK road deaths in 2018 were classified as drink-drive related. The figure was first recorded in 1998 and hasn't changed a significant amount in the previous eight years. 

A central estimate of drink-drive casualties of all severities in 2018 is put at 8700 – an increase of 1% on 2017 - including around 240 deaths. The total number of accidents in which at least one driver was over the alcohol limit rose by 4% to 5900 in 2018.

While these figures confirm that UK roads are still the safest they've ever been in terms of accident casualties, Home Office figures reveal the number of roadside breath tests conducted by police in 2018 (just under 321,000) has more than halved since 2009 (just over 670,000).

RAC spokesperson Rod Dennis claims the new figures demonstrate a "clear need for more roads policing offers and stronger measures to tackle reoffending". The number of dedicated road traffic police fell 30% between 2007 and 2017 to fewer than 2700 officers. 

Dennis said: "For nearly a decade, there has been virtually no progress in reducing the number of fatalities involving a driver over the limit. A reduction in the drink-drive limit in England and Wales could be a better deterrent for some of these drivers."

However, the RAC understands that the Government is still considering the mandatory fitting of alcolocks - devices that require a breath sample before the car can be started - to the vehicles of repeat offenders.

Read more: 

Drink driving: how motorists are falling foul of 'morning after' offences

Opinion: why safety tech and speed limiters can't save us all 

New road safety plan includes stricter seatbelt laws and alcolocks



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9 August 2018

 So, go for zero, do you really think that’ll make much difference?, what about Alcolol availability, you can just about buy it anywhere these Days, and it’s usually on special offer too!, Clubs and Pubs are virtually open all Day and into the small hours of the next Day!, how People can afford to get drunk these Days baffles me!, do they buy a Food,pay the Bills before or after having a drink?, no, I think it’s to late to curb excess drinking, the penalty for drunk driving might as well be six months in a Jail for all that difference would make, apathy?, yes, yes it is.....

9 August 2018
It's not drivers just over the limit that are the problem. It's the ones that go out and have 5,6, 7 or 8 and drive home that are the liability. Lower the limit and they'll STILL go out and get ratted. The limit makes no difference.

10 August 2018
Joshua Harris wrote:

"research has shown even very small amounts of alcohol dramatically affect safe driving.”


9 August 2018

This is a really frustrating news story. We start with the appalling news that the number of accidents, deaths and injuries linked to illegal alcohol consumption has increased. Clearly, there needs to be some effort to reverse this increase.

Brake then hijacks the story to call for the maximum alcohol level permitted for driving to be reduced. That might or might not have an effect on accidents, injuries and deaths, but the statistics in the story tell us nothing about currently legal alcohol levels. They only tell us about accidents, deaths and injuries involving people who are over the current limit. Presumably, if the limit were lowered, there would be more accidents, deaths and injuries caused by alcohol because more people would fall within the category of driving illegally over the limit.

If other countries have reduced their drink-drive limits as called for by Brake, and this has reduced accidents, deaths and injuries, then we have evidence supporting a reduction in the limit here. But this report gives no statistical support for the change Brake wants to make.

9 August 2018

As has been said above, we have no idea how many people under the current drink drive level are involved in drink related accidents, and without that evidence what is the logic in moving the goal post. I am sure that the problem is people well over the current limit, and lowering the limit wont make any difference to them. None of this makes it OK to drink and drive, or makes any accident acceptable, but any change to the current rules seems most unlikely to have any effect

9 August 2018

Exactly. People also forget that accidents happen throughout the day. Drivers pull out in front of others, mount kerbs, smash into the back of other vehicles, etc, etc, etc.

Most of the accidents that occur during the evening/overnight will probably have happened ANYWAY. Just because the driver may have had a couple of points doesn't necessarily mean that particular accident was actually due to the alcohol in his/her bloodstream. But if the police show up, take a breath sample, all of a sudden bingo - another drink related accident.

9 August 2018
The fact the numbers have risen even a little bit is worrying

If I am the DD I will never touch a drop as I transport VIPs my daughter, partner, family and friends

I fear Laws restricting the amount of alcohol legally allowed to be in a persons system will not make a huge difference as tolerances are pretty stringent anyway..(think it's a pint or less these days ?)

Changing peoples attitude and mindset is the answer but how you go about is going to be challenging.

Unfortunately a zero tolerance and stricter sentencing will have some impact but will not solve the problem

The good news is that less 16-21 year olds are drinking than previous generations so there maybe some hope for the younger generations yet.

9 August 2018

the numbers of drink-drive-related accidents in Scotland fell significantly after the lower limit was introduced.

I am sure Scottish law makers would not want to appear vindictive towards drivers and leave the new limit in place if was found to make no statistical difference, as that would show the change was purely political. ;-)

20 April 2019

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28 April 2019
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