Nearly two-thirds of drivers in England and Wales believe the Government should lower the drink-drive limit, according to new research.
A poll of drivers found that 63 per cent believed that the current strategy of improving enforcement of existing limits didn’t do enough and the limit should be reduced.
In Scotland, where a lower limit has been in place for three years, that figure was far higher, with 85 per cent of drivers believing England and Wales should follow Scotland’s example.
Legal drink-drive limits
England, Wales & Northern Ireland – 80mg per 100mL
Scotland – 50mg per 100mL
Hunter Abbott, an advisor to the parliamentary advisory council for transport safety and managing director of AlcoSense Laboratories which commissioned the study, commented: “The Government says better enforcement of the law is the answer, yet the number of road policing officers has fallen by 27 per cent since 2011. It’s clear from our survey of regular drivers who drink alcohol at least once a week that they want to see the limit reduced as well.
“Even one alcoholic drink can slow your reaction time, inhibit judgement, reduce concentration and affect motor skills such as eye, foot and hand co-ordination – increasing the likelihood of an accident.”
Despite annual campaigns and a desire for tougher limits among most drivers data from a variety of studies shows that drink-driving remains a problem, especially around Christmas.
New figures, obtained by Confused.com, from 33 police forces across the UK show that December is the worst month for drink-drive offenses. In 2016 5,136 drivers failed roadside breath tests in December, accounting for around a tenth of annual results.
Breathlyser test failures by region, 2016
East Midlands -10,256
London – 6,244
Yorkshire & The Humber – 6,060
Scotland – 5,932
South East – 5,411
West Midlands – 5,364
North West -4,487
Wales – 3,846
East of England – 3,251
South West – 3,045
Northern Ireland – 2,895
North East – 464
The study by AlcoSense found one in four motorists said they would drive after a few drinks with friends and family this Christmas. Worryingly, 13 per cent said they would get behind the wheel even if they thought they might be close to the limit and five per cent would do so even if they were at or over the limit.
The message of lower limits seems to have had an effect in Scotland, with only 14 per cent saying they would drive if they had drunk any alcohol and two per cent doing so if they thought they were at or over the limit.
Both studies also highlighted the issue of drivers taking the wheel the following day when they might still be over the limit.
A quarter of drivers polled by AlcoSense said they would probably drive at 7am after being over the limit the night before and the study by Confused.com found that 13 per cent had driven the morning after while believing they were still over the limit. An RAC poll found that around 10 per cent of drivers believed they had been over the limit while driving the morning after a party.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Anyone who thinks they are likely to have sobered up enough to drive just because they went to bed for a few hours may just be about to ruin someone else’s Christmas as well as their own.
“It is vital that everyone who has been drinking leaves sufficient time for their body to process the alcohol they have consumed. The trouble is everyone metabolises alcohol at different rates so the message has to be to err on the side of caution.
“If you are having to think whether you are sober enough to drive then the answer is you probably aren’t.”
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, added: “Many drivers look forward to having a drink at Christmas time and the majority wait at least overnight before getting behind the wheel. But it’s evident that alcohol can still be in your system after a few hours’ kip.
“To avoid getting caught out, we suggest drivers stop drinking early if they know they have to get behind the wheel in the morning, but the best advice would be to avoid drinking alcohol at all.”