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Drink-driving at Christmas

   Drink-driving at Christmas

“I’ll just have the one…”

“It is Christmas after all…”

When you are in the party spirit it can be tempting to indulge in a Christmas tipple and forget about the how you will be getting home. However, just one alcoholic drink can be enough to impact on driving ability.

So, if you are hoping to have a glass of sherry to accompany your mince pie, it would be best to leave the car at home.

Drink-driving: What’s the big deal?

Drink-driving is illegal for good reason-operating a vehicle while under the influence is dangerous for several reasons:
  • Reaction times: Having alcohol in your system slows your reaction times down, meaning the likelihood of being in a road accident is increased
  • Comprehension:  Alcohol is known to make you lose inhibitions, meaning you are more likely to perform risky manoeuvres or drive aggressively
  • Vision: Alcohol can slow eye muscle function, alter eye movement, and alter visual perception, possibly resulting in blurred vision. Night vision and colour perception also can be impaired
  • Tracking:  Alcohol can decrease the ability to judge the car's position on the road, or the location of other vehicles, centre line, or road signs
  • Concentration: Alcohol may cause attention to driving to decrease and/or drowsiness to occur
  • Coordination: Reduced eye, hand and foot coordination can be caused by drinking too much alcohol.
Drink-driving on the rise

Thanks to more than three decades of awareness campaigns led by RoSPA, THINK and other organisations, incidences of drink-driving on Britain’s roads have reduced drastically. More education about the dangers of the driving while under the influence of alcohol have prompted a wider cultural shift, which means it is more of a taboo to get behind the wheel after a drinking session.

Worryingly, this trend appears to show signs of reversing. Earlier this month police forces across the country confirmed they caught more drivers over the legal alcohol limit in December 2018 than the same month the previous year, with 4,761 individuals reprimanded during the month – an average of 154 a day.

Around 40,000 people every year get caught driving while over the legal blood to alcohol limit. Drink-driving continues to be a leading cause of road accidents; in 2017 DfT figures showed there were 250 road users killed in drink-drive accidents, the highest number on record since 2010. Across the same time period, the number of serious drink-drive accidents rose from 1,240 to 1,380.

The current drink-drive limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood or 35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100ml of breath. In Scotland, it is 50mg/100ml blood or 22mcg of alcohol in 100ml of breath. But it is important to note that a whole range of factors, including the strength of drinks, body mass and how much someone has had to eat that day, will come into play.

With this is mind, the only safe amount to drink before driving is zero.

For further information please download our factsheet about drink-driving.

Rebecca Needham, Policy and Evaluation Officer, RoSPA
Posted: 12/6/2019 3:09:13 PM 0 comments


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