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Drinking drivers on the decrease

By: Dave Robbins
08 December 2017

Over the past decade the number of drivers failing a breathalyser test following an accident has dropped by 41%. Longer-term, since the introduction of the breathalyser in 1979, which measures blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the number of accident-related failed tests is down by 71%.

All of which suggests that the threat of the breathalyser coupled with some hard-hitting advertising campaigns is definitely changing attitudes to drinking and driving. 55% of drivers now say that they avoid alcohol altogether if they are driving.

Overall, the early hours of Sunday morning are when most drivers are caught, presumably heading home after a night out. According to the statistics, rural roads are where drivers are most likely to flout the law – and be caught over the limit – 35% of those breathalysed failed. And, rather strangely, in 2016, Tuesdays between 5.00pm and 6.00pm, was the peak time for breathalyser testing, with more drivers stopped than at any other time of the week.

It would seem that drivers are still largely unaware of how long it takes for the effects of alcohol to wear off. In 2016, 11% of drivers tested between 6.00am and 11.00am failed the breathalyser, confirming that even after a night’s sleep there’s a very real danger that alcohol is still in your system – and having an impact on your driving.

It also seems possible that the number of drivers using handheld mobiles whilst driving is in decline. According to figures from a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the RAC covering March to May 2017, the number of drivers caught using their mobile reduced by 11% compared to the three months immediately prior. Across the country, 25 police forces recorded declines, 11 saw a rise and two remained the same. 

On the face of it great news. But the figures don’t make it clear whether the reductions were simply because with fewer traffic police there were fewer drivers caught.

The RAC is suggesting that the reduction in usage may be the direct result of heightened awareness following a number of road safety campaigns coupled with the introduction of stiffer penalties including six points on your licence and a £200 fine.
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