Drink-Drive Crashes Hit 12-Year High

Tue 1st Mar 2022

Did the Covid pandemic lockdown cause more people to risk drink-driving? Latest figures from the Department for Transport have revealed that in 2020 there were more deaths on UK roads from drunk drivers than at any point in the previous 11 years.

The DfT figures estimate that were 220 people killed by drivers over the legal drink-drive limit, representing 15.1 per cent of all road accident deaths in 2020, up from 13.1 per cent the previous year.

As to be expected, there were far fewer drink-drive crashes in a year when car journeys were less frequent, with the number falling by 14 per cent to 4620.
“The increase in the proportion of these fatalities may be linked to some people consuming more alcohol during lockdown and more people avoiding public transport,” said Edmund King, president of the AA.

“Unfortunately, the consequences of heavier drinking at home seem to have had dire consequences on the roads in 2020. There has also been a reduction in breath tests administered, so to correct this, we need more cops in cars to target these totally irresponsible and dangerous drink-drivers.”

Other statistics to come out of the latest DfT figures reveal that 1070 of the 4620 accidents were labelled ‘serious accidents’. Most drink-drivers were caught between the hours of 7pm and 11pm and Friday was the most likely day to be caught.

Road safety charity IAM RoadSmart said that the government needs to do more to combat the worrying rise in incidents.

“A much smarter package of measures is needed from the government, including a lower drink-drive limit, to reinforce good behaviour, fast-track of evidential roadside testing machines to release police resources and tailored approaches to help drivers with alcohol problems,” said Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research. 

“More use of alcolocks – which require the driver to blow into a mouthpiece on the device before starting or continuing to operate the vehicle – and extra penalties such as vehicle forfeiture could all be part of a more joined-up approach to the problem. 

“Hard core drink-drivers are simply not getting the message, and these figures will not improve until policy changes.”