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Charity calls for government action to stem rise in drink drive deaths

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Brake, the road safety charity, is calling for urgent government action to tackle devastating drink drive casualties, as new government statistics reveal a 17% increase in drink drive deaths in Britain.

In 2012, 280 people were killed (one in six road deaths) and 1,210 were seriously injured in crashes involving someone over the limit, compared to 240 killed and 1,270 seriously injured in 2011. Preventing these deaths and serious injuries would save many families from horrendous, needless suffering, and save the economy £709 million each year. 

While governments in Northern Ireland and Scotland are making moves to tackle drink driving through committing to reduce their drink drive limits, decision-makers in Westminster rejected recommendations for a lower limit in the North Report into drink and drug driving and Transport Select Committee inquiry into the issue. England and Wales now have the highest drink drive limit in Europe, alongside Malta. Evidence is clear that lowering drink drive limits results in fewer casualties, even reducing the severity of drink driving among high-end offenders.

The charity is calling for:

  • a zero tolerance drink drive limit, of 20mg alcohol per 100ml blood, in line with evidence that even one drink dramatically increases crash risk and to send a clear message it should be none for the road. A blood alcohol level of 20-50mg increases your likelihood of crashing three-fold.
  • greater priority and funding for traffic policing, to enable increased numbers of specialist roads police, and increased breath-testing. International evidence shows greater enforcement helps to reduce devastating crashes.

Julie Townsend, deputy chief executive, Brake, the road safety charity, said: "We have the highest drink-drive limit in Europe, and it sends out the dreadful message that a drink or two before driving is acceptable. Every other country in Europe bar one has decided a lower limit is safer, yet our government rejected the strong recommendations for a tougher approach. We are appealing to Westminster to review that decision in light of today's figures showing a horrifying increase in people are being violently killed at the hands of drink drivers. These deaths are cruel and needless, ending lives too soon and leaving behind traumatised and broken families to pick up the pieces. The evidence shows that tougher laws and greater enforcement would help prevent these casualties: we need the government to act urgently upon this."

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