drink driving

dead drunk

drink driving

THINK BEFORE TAKING THAT EXTRA DRINK.

If asked at what time of year motorists would be most tempted to drink and drive, the vast majority of us would probably say Christmas. We would be wrong, according at least to the government. In fact, the most recent statistics for drink-related incidents show that they peak in August, with almost 11% more accidents recorded than in December, resulting in over 19% more casualties.

On warm summer days, with outdoor parties in full swing, it's very tempting to have more than one long, cooling drink, but drivers must take extra care: that's the message of the latest anti-drink driving campaign.

It emphasises that a home-poured measure will undoubtedly be more generous than a standard pub measure, and just one drink could easily put someone over the legal limit to drive. Cocktails or punches can be particularly dangerous, as their high alcohol content can often be masked by the taste of fruit juice.

Many people wrongly judge whether they are safe to drive on how many units of alcohol they have consumed. Units are a measurement used by professionals as a guide to healthy drinking limits, whereas the drink drive limit is in fact measured in milligrams of alcohol found in the blood. It is impossible to calculate your alcohol limit as factors such as gender, weight, food and previous alcohol consumption all influence the effect of the drink. This misconception means that many people may be unintentionally over the legal drink drive limit because they consider having 'just one drink' to be sensible behaviour.

Any amount of alcohol in the blood can affect a person's ability to drive and, therefore, the safety of other road users. Indeed it has been proven that there is double the risk of having a road traffic accident if you are just below the drink-driving limit, than if you had not consumed any alcohol at all.

Unfortunately, people still think of a drink-driver as someone who exceeds the legal limit. In fact anyone who drinks any alcohol before driving is 'drink-driving' and, therefore, jeopardising their own safety as well as the safety of other road users. The only sensible and socially acceptable message is for motorists to avoid alcohol altogether when they are likely to drive.

However, to stay safe, it's not just the drivers who should be taking extra care. Statistics show that, in drink-driving incidents, passengers were even more likely to be seriously injured or killed than the driver who is over the limit. So for their own safety, passengers should refuse to get in a car if they suspect the designated driver has had too much to drink. The simple message to everyone is simply 'Don't drink and drive'.

The Govenment's campaign highlights the fact that 60 deaths will occur every month as the result of drinking and driving, with young men in the 17 - 24 age group being most at risk of being involved in a fatal accident, as a passenger or driver.

Statistics from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, also show that young men are the most likely to break the law. The latest figures record 4,000 drivers aged 20 - 29 having drink-drive incidents, that's almost twice as many as drivers in their 30s (2,370), three times those in their 40s (1,320) and over six times those in their 50s (600). In most incidents (86%) the drivers were male.

Holidaymakers planning to take their car abroad are also advised by motoring organisations like Green Flag to check out the regulations in the countries they plan to visit. Whilst Italy, Ireland and Luxembourg have the same limits as here, that's 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood, other countries have stricter rules. Most European countries have a limit of 50 milligrams, whilst in Sweden you will be in trouble if you register over 20 milligrams.

Drink-Driving Advice

Avoid alcohol altogether when planning to drive

Use public transport/taxi service when going somewhere where you might drink

Share the driving when going out with friends by designating a different person each time not to drink

Remember:

It is not just a question of losing your licence, you could kill yourself and others. 1 in 6 people killed on the roads die in drink - drive accidents

If you are banned, you will suffer from increased insurance premiums and will be denied cover from some insurers

Drinking the night before could mean that you are still over the limit in the morning

Statistically, you have double the risk of a road traffic accident if you are just below the drink driving limit than if you had not consumed any alcohol at all

Recent RAC research emphasises the point further. This shows that:

More than half (55 per cent) of drivers and riders killed during the traditional 'drinking' hours of 10pm-4am will be over the limit

That this number rises to 58 per cent in the same period on Friday and

Saturday nights

Of the pedestrians killed during 'drinking' hours, 86 per cent have a

blood alcohol level above the legal driving limit

On Friday and Saturday nights it is 92 per cent - half of them being

more than two and a half times over

Among motorcyclists those in the16-19 age group have the highest percentage of over the limit fatalities (26 per cent)

Among pedestrians those in the 16-24 age group those in the 30 to 39 age group have the highest percentage of over the limit fatalities (69 per cent respectively)

Among car drivers the highest percentage of over the limit deaths is in the 30 to 39s (38 per cent) followed by the 20 to 29s (30 per cent)

Consequences of a drink drive conviction may include:

A possible prison sentence and a fine of up to £5000.

A disqualification of at least a year.

Possible job loss - particularly if employment is dependent on a driving licence - 15 per cent of those convicted are made redundant. Even if a person doesn't need to drive for their job but has a company car then they will almost certainly lose it.

Loss of independence and increased reliance on public transport.

Increases in insurance premiums by up to five times the original amount after a drink drive ban.

An endorsement on the licence for 11 years - even when the disqualification period is over it may be difficult to hire a car for up to ten years.