Expert condemns rise in summer drink-driving arrests

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Expert condemns rise in summer drink-driving arrests

2nd August 2011

A road accident specialist has described news that a recent drink-driving crackdown caught a higher number of motorists driving under the influence compared to a similar campaign last year, as shocking.

Joanna Bailey, an expert in road accident injuries with Fentons Solicitors LLP, said: “It is both shocking and extremely disappointing that an increasing number of motorists, particularly young drivers, are continuing to flout the law by disregarding the dangers involved with getting behind the wheel of their vehicles after they’ve had a few drinks.

The June crackdown - targeting summer drink-driving across England, Wales and Northern Ireland - saw a drop in the number of motorists police stopped yet an 8% rise in positive, refused or failed breath tests.

In total, 88,629 motorists were stopped, of whom 5,373 or 6.06% tested positive, refused or failed a breath test, compared to 5.6% last June - an 8% rise.

“It is of huge concern that we are still seeing these sorts of numbers associated with drink-driving despite all the marketing and literature available in the public domain advising so strongly against driving under the influence,” said Joanna, a partner with the firm and spokesperson for road safety charity Brake.

“One in six deaths on UK roads is currently caused by drink-driving,” added Joanna. “It only takes a small amount of alcohol to affect a driver’s judgement, reaction times and co-ordination. Alcohol creates a false sense of confidence meaning drink-drivers are more inclined to take risks, believing they have more control over their vehicle than they actually do.”

Police figures reveal an increase in the number of under 25-year-olds testing positive by 15% compared to last year and a 7% increase in the number of positive tests for the over 25-year-olds. In addition, the number of those caught driving under the influence of drugs rose by a staggering 30%.

Joanna, who for more than 15 years has represented victims and relatives of those killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions, said that it was hugely important to ensure young drivers were made aware of a few grim truths.

“Drivers aged 17-24 in the UK have the highest level of drink-drive crashes per distance travelled,” said Joanna. “According to a Royal Automobile Club (RAC) survey, one in five young drivers take to the road everyday while under the influence of illegal drugs. This accounts for 18% of those killed on UK roads each year.

“It is totally unacceptable that so many drivers, particularly those under the age of 25 continue to drive while under the influence of drink and drugs,” added Joanna. “There needs to be further reform to the legislation concerning drug-driving and the introduction of a zero-tolerance drink-drive limit to prevent motorists from effectively having to guess if they are over the limit. The statistics speak for themselves. If you choose to drink and drive you are significantly more likely to be involved in a serious or fatal collision putting both yourself and others at risk of serious injury or death.”

How can Fentons help?

Fentons has a specialist department experienced in handling claims for families and victims of fatal road traffic collisions.

If you think that you have a case or require further information contact Fentons on 0800 0191 297 or fill in the online claims questionnaire.

Read more: BBC