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Drink-drive deaths at highest level since 2009

An estimated 250 people were killed in crashes on Britain’s roads in 2017 involving at least one driver over the limit.

Drink-drive deaths have reached the highest level since 2009 (Andrew Milligan/PA)
Drink-drive deaths have reached the highest level since 2009 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

The number of people killed in drink-drive crashes on Britain’s roads has reached an eight-year high.

Department for Transport (DfT) data shows there were between 230 and 270 fatalities in accidents where at least one driver or rider was over the alcohol limit in 2017.

The central estimate of 250 deaths is the most since 2009.

It represents an increase of 20 compared with 2016, although the DfT described this rise as “not statistically significant”.

The total number of people injured or killed in drink-drive crashes was 8,600 in 2017, down from 9,040 during the previous year.

Publication of the figures comes after recent research by road safety charity Brake found that more than 5,000 motorists have been caught drink-driving on two or more occasions in the past four years.

The Scottish Government reduced the alcohol limit for drivers from 80 milligrammes (mg) per 100 millilitres of blood to 50mg in December 2014, but the legal level in the rest of the UK remains among the highest in Europe at 80mg.

Brake’s director of campaigns Joshua Harris said the increase is drink-drive deaths is “incredibly concerning”.

He went on: “How much longer must this continue before the Government acts?

“The current drink-driving limit gives a false impression that it is safe to drink and drive. This is a dangerous message and one that couldn’t be further from the truth.”

AA president Edmund King said there continues to be a “hardcore of drink-drivers” as more than two-fifths of those failing breath tests are more than twice over the limit.

He continued: “As well as needing more cops in cars to catch people in the act, the ultimate responsibility lies with drivers themselves.”

RAC head of policy Nicholas Lyes claimed the figures show that “no discernible progress has been made” in reducing the number of drink-drive fatalities over nine years.

He added: “The Government should be looking closely at all its options, even reviewing the drink-drive limit.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “Drink-driving is absolutely deplorable, and those who do it not only put their own lives at risk but other people’s too.

“We are working with industry to develop new evidential roadside breath tests, meaning drink-drivers do not have the chance to sober up before being tested, while the Think! Mates Matter campaign had the biggest impact in young drivers’ attitudes to drink-driving in a decade.”

PA

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