The number of people killed or seriously injured in incidents where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit went up eight per cent in 2019 compared with the previous year.
Government figures released today show that this number was 2,050, which was an increase despite overall casualties of 7,800 representing a drop of 10 per cent.
The number of fatalities in drink-drive incidents was about 230, which is two per cent down on 2018. Apart from a drop in 2015, drink-drive fatalities have stayed at a consistent level since 2010, following a large decline from almost 400 in 2009.
These figures are based on a 95 per cent confidence in the data, with official data saying the true number could be as high as 250 or low as 210.
Nicholas Lyes, RAC head of policy, said these figures are “a rather chilling reminder that in the region of 250 people are killed by drink-drivers on Great Britain’s roads every year, a figure that’s barely fallen since 2010”.
He added: “Clearly much more needs to be done, and one area we’d like to see progress in is around cutting reoffending. A report by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety found that nearly one-in-five drink drive offences are carried out by repeat offenders, something that could be tackled with the introduction of alcohol interlocks.”
Alcohol interlocks are devices fitted to cars that require the driver to blow below the legal limit before allowing them to turn the engine on.
Hunter Abbott, managing director of personal breathalyser firm AlcoSense, said: “The fact that testing is at its lowest level on record should be ringing alarm bells. Police carried out just 285,380 roadside breath tests in England and Wales in 2019 – less than half the number in 2008.
“All convicted drink drivers in Northern Ireland are now automatically referred to a rehabilitation course – to educate them on the potential consequences of their actions. This should be introduced in the rest of the UK as soon as possible.”
AlcoSense says that it conducted a poll that found 36 per cent of motorists think their ability to drive is only impaired once they’re over the legal limit.
However, you are 13 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash if you are at, but not over, the limit in the United Kingdom.