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Do you know a Christmas drink-driver?

Drink driving

Nearly four in 10 people (37%) have friends who they believe have driven while being over the drink-drive limit, according to new RAC research.

Timed to coincide with the launch of the Government’s THINK! Christmas drink-drive campaign, the survey of 1,865 motorists found a shocking 28% were unprepared to try to talk a friend who they thought might be over the limit out of driving.

A hard-line 9%, however, say they would warn a friend not to drive otherwise they would call the police. Four in 10 (43%) would try to persuade their friend who had been drinking to take alternative transport home, and even arrange and pay for a taxi.

Only 38% of those questioned claimed to have a zero-alcohol policy when driving to a social function. Just over a quarter (27%) say they will have one small alcoholic drink, such as half a pint, shandy, small wine, small spirit mixed, followed by non-alcoholic drinks and then drive home.

One in 10 (10%) could be risking being over the limit by having one large alcoholic drink, such as a pint of beer or lager, large wine or a large spirit mixed, and then non-alcoholic drinks and drive home. Two per cent say they will have two alcoholic drinks and drive home.

Looking at Christmas Day itself a fifth of those who took part in the research (21%) say they will be driving after celebrating with family or friends and, asked separately, 23% will drink alcohol before driving.

Data compiled for this year’s RAC annual Report on Motoring shows there is growing concern about those who drive under the influence of alcohol, the issue having risen from eighth to fifth in a list of 20 major driving concerns, with 27% of drivers identifying it is as a major concern.

Eight in 10 motorists (81%) of the 1,808 motorists surveyed say they do not think they have driven under the influence of alcohol over the past 12 months. But worryingly, there has been a statistically significant increase in the proportion of drivers who admit in the past 12 months that they have driven shortly after drinking when they think or know they were over the legal limit, rising from 8% to 12%.

Looking at the ‘morning after’ drink-driving issue, 2% say they know they have broken the law in this way, while 8% believe they may have done so.

The figures also show motorists aged between 25 and 44 (24%) are more likely to admit to driving when they think or know they were over the legal limit shortly after drinking than those in other age groups, while those who live in London (32%) or in other cities (23%) also have a greater propensity to drink-drive.

The best advice is not to drink at all

“Drink-driving, whether someone is just over the limit or several times above it, is unacceptable – it ruins lives,” said the RAC’s Pete Williams said. “So it’s shocking to see in our research that so many people know drivers who have got behind the wheel when they’re over the limit.

“It’s also sad that a sizeable proportion of those surveyed are unwilling to try to persuade a friend who’s too drunk to drive, not to. But, on the other hand it’s positive that 43% would sort out a cab for a friend instead of letting them drive.

“The findings of our long-term research for the Report on Motoring around drivers aged 25-44 being more likely to say they had driven while over the limit were significant, and in some cases surprising given that younger drivers under 25 are often seen as more likely to drink and drive.

“It is also surprising Londoners are more prone to this as city dwellers generally have better public transport alternatives to the car compared to those living in rural areas.

“We urge everyone to think twice about driving to a social function and then drinking. The best advice is not to drink at all or to arrange other transport so you can enjoy yourself without the fear and consequences of breaking the law. And, for those that have been out drinking it is also essential they ensure they are safe to drive the next day as just going to sleep for a few hours doesn’t necessarily make you legally safe to drive.”

About Gareth Herincx

Gareth is a versatile journalist, copywriter and digital editor who's worked across the media in newspapers, magazines, TV, teletext, radio and online. After long stints at the BBC, GMTV and ITV, he now specialises in motoring.

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