The number of people killed in road accidents where the driver was over the drink drive limit has risen 45% in two years.
Provisional figures released by the Department for Transport estimate there were 290 deaths in 2017 compared with 200 in 2015. There were 230 fatalities in 2016 – so the annual increase is 26%.
Hunter Abbott, Managing Director of breathalyser firm AlcoSense said, “I believe this shows a clear correlation between cuts in Police budgets and increased drink-drive deaths.
“With fewer numbers and stretched resources, the Police can only do so much. Combined with the highest drink drive limit in the developed world, it’s proved to be a lethal mixture.
“At the English limit you are 13 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than when sober – five times more likely at the lower Scottish limit.
“The latest data from the European Transport Safety Council shows UK Police now carry out fewer breath tests per 1000 inhabitants than any other country in Europe that records this data.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams added, “Looking at these estimated figures there could be an increase of up to a 33% in the number of road deaths resulting from an accident where one or more drivers was over the drink-drive limit.
“This is a serious cause for alarm and reflects a worrying change in attitude by a number of drivers who are prepared to risk their own life and that of others by drinking and driving. Anyone who has lost a loved-one in a drink-driving accident will testify to how devastating and needless this is.
“Research for the latest RAC Report on Motoring revealed the proportion of drivers who admitted to driving when they thought or knew they were over the legal limit shortly after drinking has doubled from 8% to 12%. Significantly, a quarter (24%) of all drivers aged 25 to 44 admitted to this and almost a third (32%) of London drivers said they had done this.
“Fears about other drivers being under the influence of drink is now a top-five issue for motorists with 27% rating it as a concern, up from 22% in 2016.”
“With the reduced number of roads policing officers it appears more drivers are thinking they can get away with drinking and driving. However this is a major issue for society and we need to refocus our efforts to raise awareness of the risks.”