Why is it dangerous to drink and drive?
Drinking and driving kills around 8 people every week on Britain’s roads. Provisional figures for 2010 show that 250 people were killed in drink drive accidents and over 1,200 were seriously injured. This means that around 30 people are killed or seriously injured in drink drive crashes every week.
Alcohol impairs judgement, making drivers over-confident and more likely to take risks. It slows their reactions, increases stopping distances, impairs judgement of speed and distance, reduces the ability to concentrate and affects vision. Even a small amount, well below the legal limit, seriously affects the ability to drive safely.
It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle on a public road with more than either:
35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath (BRAC of 35ug/100ml) or
80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood (BAC of 80mg/100ml).
However, RoSPA thinks this should be lowered because drivers are impaired at alcohol levels below the current limit. Drivers who have between 50 and 80 mg per 100ml of blood are 2 to 2 ½ times more likely to crash and 6 times more likely to be in a fatal crash. A driver who is double the legal limit is 50 times more likely to be in a fatal crash.
Research by the Centre for Public Health Excellence in 2010 concluded that lowering the drink drive limit to 50 mg/100 ml “would undoubtedly save a significant number of lives”. Their estimates ranged from at least 43 to around 168 lives saved, and that the impact would increase over the first few years of the lower limit meaning that up to 303 lives annually saved by the 6th year.
Drinking and driving is a year round problem, although the pattern varies year on year, the winter months generally have lower numbers of drink-drive accidents and casualties than other months of the year.
Despite 30 years of drink drive education and enforcement, around 100,000 people are still caught drink driving annually. On conviction, such drivers face a driving ban of at least 12 months, a large fine and possible imprisonment. They are also likely to have to pay up to five times the normal motor insurance premium once they are legally allowed to drive again, and will also be unable to hire a car from most car rental firms for ten years.
Date Updated/Created: 14/10/2011
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