Balance calls for action as drink driving fatalities reach 12 year high
Balance the North East Alcohol Programme is calling for action on alcohol and a reduction in the drink driving limit to save lives and protect our roads.
It comes as new figures from the Department for Transport (DfT) show fatalities from drink-drive crashes on Britain’s roads have reached a 12-year high.
An estimated 260 people were killed in collisions involving a driver over the alcohol limit in 2021, up from 220 during the previous 12 months – the highest annual total since 2009, when there were 380 fatalities. A further 1,610 people were seriously injured in drink-drive crashes in 2021.
A survey of 907 North East adults in 2021 by Balance found 74% say alcohol is a big problem regionally and nationally while 65% associate alcohol with road traffic accidents. A poll in 2015 also found more than eight in 10 North Easterners (84%) supporting a reduction in the limit.
Balance is calling for MPs to reduce England’s high drink driving limit to bring into line with Scotland where the limit is 50 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood. England and Wales currently have the highest legal limit in Europe at 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.
Ailsa Rutter OBE, Director of Fresh and Balance, said: “Too many people are dying and being injured on our roads because of alcohol. Lowering the limit won’t prevent every accident but it will leave less room for people to wrongly believe they can have a couple of drinks and still be OK.
“England’s approach to alcohol and our roads is now looking outdated and irresponsible compared to the rest of Europe. Cutting the limit would send a clear message, deter more drivers from getting behind the wheel after a few drinks or the morning after, and support our emergency services who have to deal with serious crashes on a daily basis.”
She added: “Alcohol is too cheap, too widely promoted and too available. We need a new national strategy to tackle all aspects of alcohol harm and look at solutions for its impact on lives, health, public safety and our economy.”
In the first nine months following the introduction of the 50 mg limit in Scotland, drink driving offences fell by 12.5%. According to road safety charity Brake, drivers are 6 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash if they have 50-80 mg alcohol per 100ml blood, compared to no alcohol.