Members of the public and young people in particular are being urged to take a zero tolerance approach to drink-driving this festive season to help prevent devastating Christmas tragedies.

A survey of young drivers, released by Brake and Direct Line, finds a shocking three in ten (29%) are willing to take the deadly gamble of driving after drinking alcohol. An even bigger proportion – 53%, up from 45% four years ago – risk driving drunk the day after a heavy night, suggesting widespread complacency about how long alcohol stays in your system.

In 2010, one in seven road deaths involved drink drivers. Around 250 road deaths and 1,230 road casualties occurred when someone was over the drink drive limit. Many more drink-drive crashes are caused by drivers who only have small amounts of alcohol in their blood. A further estimated 65 road deaths per year are caused by drivers who are under the drink-drive limit, but who have a significant amount of alcohol in their blood. Research shows that even very small amounts of alcohol significantly increase reaction times and therefore the risk of crashing.

Julie Townsend, Brake campaigns director, said:

“Christmas is a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate. But for some of the families Brake supports, it’s a sad time when they remember loved ones who have been killed in crashes caused by drink-drivers – in many cases young, inexperienced drivers who didn’t think through the consequences. Their deaths were preventable, and we all – young and old – have a responsibility to do what we can to prevent further drink drive deaths and injuries.”