The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is disappointed that more than 200 drivers, on average, were arrested each day during the Christmas drink-drive crack-down.
Police forces across England and Wales arrested 6,613 drivers who gave positive breath tests, or who refused or failed to give a test, during the campaign, which ran from December 1, 2010 – January 1, 2011. Of these drivers, 2,117 (32 per cent) were recorded as being under the age of 25.
An analysis of the situation across the country, conducted for RoSPA’s Care on the Road journal, found that there was particular concern among police forces about a disproportionately high number of young drivers being caught and an increase in morning-after drivers still over the limit.
Duncan Vernon, RoSPA’s road safety manager for England, said: “We have had many years of high-profile drink-drive publicity and education, and it is disappointing that so many people are still not getting the message that drink driving is dangerous and can be avoided. Road conditions across much of the country were extremely tough during December and it is particularly worrying to think that so many drivers were making an already difficult situation worse by getting behind the wheel while over the limit.
“On average, more than 200 people were arrested each day during the Christmas campaign. This shows that we cannot let up on drink-drive education; there are always new drivers to reach with the important messages and others who need reminding.”
Also during the campaign, 79 drivers were arrested following a field impairment test, which is used in drug-drive enforcement. This accounted for around 20 per cent of those who were tested, a rise on the proportion of drivers arrested for suspected drug-drive offences during the previous year’s campaign.
Duncan Vernon said: “On drug driving, the Christmas figures show once again that this is an issue that needs addressing, and RoSPA supports the trialling of new drug testing equipment to make the process of catching offenders easier.”
RoSPA campaigns for the drink-drive limit to be lowered from 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood to 50mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. The safety charity would also like the police to have wider powers to breath-test drivers.
The latest provisional drink-drive casualty figures show that, across Britain in 2009, 380 people were killed in crashes in which a driver was over the legal alcohol limit, accounting for 17 per cent of all road fatalities. A further 11,610 people were injured in drink-drive accidents.
During the Christmas campaign, a total of 169,838 breath tests were administered, including 39,723 to under-25s. The figures have been released today by the Association of Chief Police Officers.