The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) has released analysis of the way we deal with drink drivers in England and Wales.

Conclusions highlight a strategy that is out-dated and under-resourced. It is calling for a comprehensive government review.

Drink driving remains one of the biggest causes of road deaths (13%). However, the strategy is still heralded as a major road safety success story. Over the last 50 years it has brought about huge change in attitudes and practical results. But in the last decade, 240 people have been killed each year where a driver was over the limit. The positive affects of campaigns have plateaued and, in some respects, gone into reverse.

Nearly one in five (17%) drink drive offences is committed by a reoffender. Since 2010, 32,025 people committed a drink drive offence with a previous drink/drug drive offence on their record.

David Davies, Executive Director of PACTS, says: “After 10 years of declining levels of enforcement and social media campaigns aimed at young men, it is time for a new, more comprehensive approach to reducing the toll of drink drive deaths and injuries.”

At The Bar

The new report by PACTS shows a complex picture. It is one that needs a broader approach, combining improved enforcement, health measures and alternative transport provision.
Addiction and mental health issues are an increasing part of the picture.

After the pandemic, these are likely to play an increasing role. Another growing issue is the apparent lack of effective deterrents. Police numbers have decreased by 63% since 2009 and there are indications that drivers believe they are less likely to be caught.

“The problem is not a simple one of law enforcement. It requires a more comprehensive approach,” remarked Davies. “The legal limit should be reduced in England and Wales, police should be given additional powers to test drivers, the High Risk Offender Scheme should be reformed, rehabilitation courses should be designed for those with mental health and alcohol problems”.

Last Orders

Backing the report’s conclusions Simon Williams, RAC road safety spokesman, also called for the introduction of alcolocks for reoffenders: “A year and a half ago the Government said it was looking at the benefits so-called ‘alcolocks’ to reduce reoffending, so it is high time a clear plan was put together”.

He reiterated that there has been ‘virtually no progress’ in reducing drink-driving deaths in the UK over the last decade.

Focusing on the legal limit, no other country in Europe has a limit above 50mg/100ml. England and Wales are still using the 80mg limit. The Scottish government reduced its limit to 50mg/100ml in 2014.

The report would like to see the limit a similar reduction in England and Wales. Its also believes a reduction to zero for professional, young and novice drivers is certainly worth consideration too.

*Drink Driving – Taking Stock, Moving Forward is produced by PACTS in association with University of Stirling and University of Dundee.