Fleet News

Special feature: drink-driving

DURING my time at Fleet News I have embarked on numerous courses covering varying subjects from advanced driver training and risk awareness to a refresher course in shorthand.

But never have I attended a course which has had as much impact as the one I completed recently.

The Avoidd drink-drive avoidance course provides a hard-hitting reminder about the dangers of alcohol and driving, especially the ‘morning after the night before’ issue which tends to be forgotten in a lot of advertising campaigns.

With Christmas just around the corner, firms should be highlighting the issue of drink driving to employees – and there seem to be several misconceptions about what is a safe level of alcohol to drink before getting behind the wheel.

According to Sue Turney, the course tutor from Avoidd, there’s only one safe level of alcohol – and that’s zero.

The major problem is that measures are now bigger than ever. A glass of wine is no longer a dainty one – 250ml (a third of a bottle) is standard in a lot of bars and if the strength of the wine is 15% which again is common, then this equates to four units of alcohol.

Turney said: ‘The only thing which makes a difference to the amount of alcohol in your blood is time.’

Experts claim that for every unit of alcohol drunk, drivers should wait at least an hour before getting into a car. So for a 250ml 15% glass of wine, that’s four hours after drinking it.

How many fleet drivers have a glass of wine or a lager at lunch? One bottle of beer could be 1.5 units whereas another, such as a pint of Stella Artois, can be three units. One bottle could mean just over an hour’s wait or it could mean three.

‘The choice of the strength of a glass of wine or beer can have a big impact on the breathalyser,’ Turney said.

This is especially true when driving the morning after a night of drinking. Drivers may feel a little groggy, but a couple of headache tablets and a glass of water later they could be on the road.

It is now common for both men and women to go home and open a bottle of wine at the end of a day.

There are several myths which some drivers believe will foil the breathalyser. Turney dismisses them all.

She said: ‘There are myths about drinking such as the two-pint rule where two pints is OK, but this is not true. Coffee will help you feel better but won’t affect the amount of alcohol in your blood stream. The only safe way is not to have alcohol at all.’

Turney believes that there is a distinct shortage of alcohol awareness in the industry and thinks it should be part of the standard driving test.

She said: ‘Alcohol awareness does not feature in the theory test, which is part of the driving test, but it should be. There is a severe lack of alcohol awareness.’

As Christmas approaches it is a company’s responsibility to ensure drivers are clear about the consequences of drinking and driving, especially if they are drinking at work-related events.

Throwing a lavish end of year party could mean a good time is had by all, but duty of care obligations ensuring that drivers are not forced onto the road early the next morning are paramount.

  • Visit www.drinkdrive.co.uk

    Drink-driving the morning after – a simple, but costly, mistake to make

    This man, who asked not to be named, lost his licence after being caught the morning after a night out.

  • 7.30pm: ‘It had been a long, hard day at work and a couple of my colleagues said they were off to the pub so I went with them for a couple of pints. Time moved on, we were having a laugh and before I knew it I’d had four pints, a couple of glasses of wine and a scotch or two.’
  • 12.30am: ‘It was quite late by the time I got home, but as I’d been drinking over a fairly long time, I didn’t feel very drunk, although I was mindful that I had to be up early the next morning for work’
  • 6.15am: ‘I got up feeling pretty rough, but I had a strong cup of coffee, a couple of headache tablets and some water and started to feel better.’
  • 6.45am: ‘I had to be in Manchester, 80 miles away, for a 9am start, and as the traffic is always bad, I left in plenty of time. As it turned out, I’d have been better off leaving later and being late.’
  • 7.00am: ‘I was sitting at some traffic lights, when some bloke, probably still half asleep, drove into the back of my car. ‘
  • 7.15am: ‘He didn’t do that much damage to my car but the police turned up anyway. One of the officers asked me if I’d been drinking the night before, so he must have smelled alcohol on my breath. He breathalysed both of us, and found I was over the limit.’
  • 7.20am: ‘The police put me in their patrol car and I wasn’t even allowed to make a call to my employer or client to say I would be late for work.’
  • 8.15am: ‘At the station I was fingerprinted, my photo and a DNA sample was taken. ‘
  • 11.30am: ‘I was allowed to go home. Then I had to tell my family, friends and employer that I may lose my licence as I had been found drink-driving. I felt really ashamed, and my employer was less than understanding about it. I tried to explain I hadn’t knowingly been drink-driving, but they said my career had been put in serious jeopardy and I would struggle to keep my job.’
  • ‘I was later taken to court, where the magistrate gave me a 12-month driving ban. I lost my job as result. ‘
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