Analysis & Features

Police Cuts Coincide with Highest Drink-Drive Spike Since 2010

Nov 27, 2019
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Fatal and serious drink-drive casualties have reached their highest level since 2010, according to new analysis of Department for Transport (DfT) figures.

The spike in drink-drive casualties coincides with a 17% drop in police numbers over the same time period, and a massive 55% reduction in the number of roadside breath tests.

The latest DfT figures show in 2017 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.

Since 2010 police forces across the UK have experienced a 17% cut in full-time officer numbers. The decline in police numbers has coincided with a significant 55% reduction in the number of roadside breath tests. In 2010, police across the UK conducted 737,000 roadside tests, with 11% recorded as positive for alcohol. In 2017, just 326,000 roadside breath tests took place, with 16% of all drivers recording a positive sample. The Government recently announced a national campaign to recruit 20,000 more police officers over the next three years.

The lead up to Christmas will be a particularly busy time for police across the country; the latest figures show the month of December sees up to a 20% spike in drink-drive accidents.

The current drink-drive limit in England and Wales is 80mg/100ml, with Scotland having adopted a lower 50mg/100ml limit in 2014. England and Wales have the highest drink-drive tolerances across Europe. Czech Republic, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia have the lowest limit, with a zero tolerance on drink-driving, while most other European countries have a limit of 50mg/100ml.

Drivers in the East Midlands were found most likely to be involved in an accident while under the influence of alcohol, with 2.8% of all accidents involving a driver under the influence. London records the lowest number of drink-drive accidents, with 1.4% of crashes in the capital involving a driver over the limit.

Vantage Leasing Managing Director, Rob Walker, said: “Drink-driving remains a serious issue for UK road safety. Since 2010, we’ve seen a 17% drop in full-time police numbers. At the same time, drink drive fatalities and serious accidents have gone up. While having more officers won’t solve the problem of drink-driving entirely, they will undoubtedly help reduce the issue.”

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