Drink-driving casualty figures hit three-year high

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The number of casualties from severe drink-drive accidents has reached a three-year high, latest figures show.

Final estimates published by the Department for Transport (DfT) show that 1,370 people were killed or seriously injured in crashes involving a driver under the influence in 2015, up from 1,310 on the previous year.

This 4% increase is "statistically significant" and represents the largest total since 2012 , the DfT said.

Collisions involving a driver over the alcohol limit rose by 2% year-on-year to 5,730 while fatalities fell by 40 to 200.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: "We have seen a stubborn plateauing of the drink-drive casualty figures since 2010 but this could show the start of a worrying trend in the opposite direction and is further evidence that we can't afford to be complacent about drink-drive levels in the UK.

"It is difficult to say whether this is down to a hard core of persistent drink-drivers who appear to believe they are above the law or if drinking and driving is becoming more acceptable to a broader group."

The Scottish Government reduced the alcohol limit for drivers from 35 micrograms (mcg) to 22mcg in every 100 millilitres of breath in December 2014, but the legal level in England and Wales remains 35mcg.

Jason Wakeford, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: "Selfish drink-drivers destroy lives and inflict appalling suffering on families up and down the country.

"There will be more, unrecorded, casualties involving drivers impaired by alcohol but under the current limit.

"The drink-drive limit in England and Wales is the second highest in Europe and must be lowered urgently. In addition, savage cuts to road traffic policing must be reversed and enforcement increased to crack down on dangerous drink-drivers."