Lawford Kidd, Personal Injury Solicitors

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Drink-Driving a Threat to Road Safety

A recent survey into safety concerns of road users found that that drink and drug driving is one of biggest perceived threats to safety on Britain’s roads

Road Safety Concerns

The third annual Safety Culture Survey by road safety charity IAM RoadSmart found that 90% of those questioned identified driving while under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs as a serious safety problem. 

In addition, while around half of the drivers surveyed believe the dangers posed by drink-driving have remained the same over time, the problem of people driving under the influence of drugs is increasing, with 64% identifying this as more significant over the last three years.

Other key risks to personal safety on the road identified in the survey include talking on mobile phones (89%), speeding on residential streets (87%), drivers ignoring red lights (87%) and tired drivers (86%). Aggression behind the wheel was also identified as a problem, with 75% of those surveyed believing this to be  a danger to their personal safety.

Links to Road Traffic Accidents

A separate survey, this time by the RAC, also found widespread concern over the dangers posed by drink-driving. 

It revealed that 24% of motorists surveyed listed drivers under the influence of drink as one of their top-four concerns.

RAC highlights that these fears about drink-driving appear to be well justified, as official statistics for Britain show there has been little change in the number of casualties from reported road accidents between 2012 and 2016 where one of the drivers or riders involved was impaired by alcohol. In both years 143 people lost their lives in such accidents, and very similar numbers did so in the years in between. It total, 702 people lost their lives over the five years in accidents where alcohol was a contributing factor.

Support for Lowering the Drink-Drive Limit

The research also revealed extensive general public support for a UK-wide reduction in the legal blood-alcohol limit to 50 milligrams per 100ml – as enforced in Scotland – or even to 20 milligrams, with six in 10 (59%) British motorists saying they are in favour of 50mg or less becoming law.

2017 marks 50 years since the introduction of the drink-drive law and the roadside breath test, and in that time the legal blood-alcohol limit in England and Wales has not been reduced. 

While the 80mg (milligrams) of alcohol per 100ml (millilitres) of blood limit has been in place since a legal maximum was introduced, Scotland took the decision to cut to 50mg in December 2014 and Northern Ireland is in the process of doing the same. RAC highlights that England and Wales are not only lagging behind their neighbours, but are also out of kilter with the rest of Europe where, with few exceptions, 50mg per 100ml is the legal limit.

“Anyone who has been out celebrating during the festive period should be very mindful of not being over the limit when they go to drive the next day,” commented RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams. “Anyone who thinks they are likely to have sobered up enough to drive just because they went to bed for a few hours may just be about to ruin someone else’s Christmas as well as their own.”

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