Casualties and fatalities from accidents involving drink driving increased in 2016, leading to calls for a renewed government focus.
Final Department for Transport estimates for 2016 show that between 220 and 250 people were killed in accidents in Great Britain where at least one driver or rider was over the drink-drive limit, with a central estimate of 230 deaths. This is up 15% on the central estimate of 200 from 2015, and represents about 13% of all deaths in reported road accidents in 2016.
The DfT figures also show a rise in the central estimate for all drink-drive casualties, up 7% on 2015 to 9,040 in 2016. This is the highest level of drink-drive casualties in reported road accidents since 2012 and represents around 5% of all casualties in reported road accidents in 2016.
The DfT data also looked at the estimated number of reported drink-drive accidents and found the total for all severities rose by 6% to 6,070 in 2016 and is the highest since 2012.
The number of estimated fatal drink-drive accidents rose 29% to 220 in 2016 from 170 in 2015, reaching similar levels to those recorded between 2010 and 2014.
Responding to the figures, RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “These statistics are very disappointing. The number of KSI (killed and seriously injured) accidents involving illegal levels of alcohol have been relatively stable for a number of years but are now worryingly showing an increase. We are concerned that this may be the start of a trend to which the Government must be vigilant.
“We need to understand whether it is the hard core of habitual heavy drinkers or growth in the number of drivers who admit that they occasionally drive knowing they are over the limit. Either way the message is the same – drink driving ruins lives and makes our roads more dangerous.
“In 2017 our Report on Motoring revealed that 8% of drivers admitted that they had driven shortly after drinking and this rose to 14% for those under 45.
“What is clear is that a majority of drivers (59%) would support a reduction in the legal blood-alcohol limit, similar to that in Scotland – where it has been cut from 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood to 50 milligrams – or lower.”