Drink driving ruins lives – death, life-changing injuries, written off cars and trauma. There is simply no excuse for it. But some people assume that, even if they don’t drive on a drinking night, they will be fine the following day.
As the UK heads into Christmas party season the RAC is urging those aged 25-44 to play it safe ‘the morning after the night before’ as new research shows 8% of this age group think they’ve driven over the limit the next day – double the rate seen among drivers of all ages (4%).
A study of more than 3,000 drivers for the RAC Report on Motoring also reveals the 25-44 age group is more likely to drive with illegal levels of alcohol in their systems shortly after having a drink – 5% think they have done so compared to 3% of drivers of any age. What’s more, 3% of this group admit to having definitely driven drunk compared to 2% among drivers of all ages.
Overall, the RAC’s 2022 research highlights a slight rise in drivers across all age groups who think they have got behind the wheel when they should not have – up to 7% compared to 5% in 2021. This, however, is still considerably lower than before the pandemic when it stood at 13% in 2019 and 14% in 2018.
Drivers were also asked for their views on policy measures that could be introduced to curb drink-driving. The greatest support (54%) was for an increase in the number of roadside breathalyser tests carried out by the police while 43% said offenders’ vehicles should be fitted with alcolocks – devices that require drivers to provide a breath sample below the legal alcohol limit in order to start their car. Interestingly, 32% of drivers think alcolocks should be fitted to all vehicles, not just those driven by people previously convicted of a drink-driving offence. More than a quarter (27%) think all drivers should be required by law to carry their own breathalyser so they can check they are safe to drive – this rises to 39% among the under-25s.
The RAC Report on Motoring, which also tracks long-term attitudes to key driving issues, found concern about other motorists’ drink-driving has dropped sharply in the past three years: in 2022 only 14% say this is a top-four concern, down from 28% in 2019.
RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said:
“It is very concerning to see so many drivers aged 25-44 who think they have driven while drunk or who know they have, nearly double the figure for all drivers. This has doubled to 18% from the 2021 figure of 9% and is now at its highest level since before the pandemic.
“Seven per cent of all drivers say they think they’ve driven while over the limit, either immediately after having a drink or on the morning after – a disappointing figure but one that can perhaps be explained by there being no major lockdowns or restrictions on hospitality businesses in the UK over the past 12 months.
“Encouragingly though, these figures are significantly below the pre-pandemic trend as between 2015 and 2019, the number of drivers who admitted to or thought they had driven while over the limit ranged from 16% to a staggering 20%.
“With RAC research showing such a decline in those admitting to drink-driving it would be a great shame if we as a society were to revert to the higher numbers seen before the pandemic.
“We strongly urge every driver to make the right decision when celebrating this Christmas, particularly the day after the night before. Just going to bed for a few hours won’t be enough to clear your system of alcohol, particularly if you’ve been drinking heavily at a work Christmas party until well gone midnight. We also support the THINK! campaign’s message to look out for mates – which encourages everyone to ensure their friends are not tempted to drink-drive.
“It is far better to play it safe rather than taking an unnecessary risk that could change your life or, worse still, someone else’s.”