Is your designated driver a drink driver?

Glass of beer

Picture credit: Tim (Timothy) Pearce

If you’re thinking of going out to enjoy a few drinks over the festive season, it’s important that you leave your car at home. Whether you own your car or drive it under a car lease or contract hire plan, being caught over the drink drive limit can put your licence in jeopardy as well as being dangerous to other road users.

Now, a leading road safety charity is also calling on partygoers to help prevent accidents on Britain’s roads by standing up to designated drivers who break their promise by having a drink. We look at the latest campaign from Brake and why you should be brave if your designated driver is drinking.

Two thirds of drivers won’t drive after having a drink

New research from road safety charity Brake and insurer Direct Line has found that there has been a massive shift in public attitudes towards drink driving over the past decade.

While the vast majority of drivers now subscribe to a zero tolerance approach to alcohol and driving, in line with Brake’s advice, a minority continue to cause enormous risk by driving after drinking – and passengers are struggling to stand up to these drivers.

The survey of 1,000 drivers across the UK found that over two-thirds of drivers (68 per cent) won’t drive after having a drink, compared to less than half (49 per cent) a decade ago. And, four in five motorists never drive first thing in the morning after drinking a lot of alcohol, up from 72 per cent ten years ago.

However, while we’re much better at leaving our leased and hired cars at home when we go out, passengers are finding it hard to stand up to their designated driver if they have been drinking.

Only one-third (36 per cent) said they would refuse to get in the car if their designated driver had been drinking while one in eight say they have potentially or definitely been a passenger with a driver who was over the limit in the past year.

Charity calls for drink drive limit to be reduced

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, has called on the government to reduce the legal drink drive limit. She said: “Public attitudes towards drink driving have shifted dramatically, yet people are still being killed and injured by those who continue to take this inexcusable risk.

“Most people are on board with zero tolerance on drink driving, and the government must respond. Reducing the limit to 20mg would send a clear message that any amount of alcohol before driving is a dangerous risk that’s never worth it.

“We are also appealing to everyone to look after themselves, family and friends this festive season, by planning ahead to get home safely and speaking out against drink driving. If you drive, pledge to never drink any alcohol before getting behind the wheel, and if you have a designated driver, make sure they stay completely off the booze,” she added.

In 2012, 280 people were killed and 1,210 suffered serious injuries in crashes caused by drivers over the drink drive limit. It is estimated that a further 65 deaths are caused annually by drivers who have been drinking but are under the limit.

Rob Miles, director of Motor at Direct Line, said: “Worryingly, one in eight people have been a passenger in a car when they’ve suspected the driver may have been over the drink-drive limit. We’re calling on motorists and passengers alike to be responsible and prevent drink-driving when they have any concerns about the driver being over the limit or otherwise unsafe.”


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