Around five million drivers believe they have got behind the wheel while over the limit at least once in the past year, according to research carried out by the RAC.
In total 16% of the 1,727 motorists questioned by the RAC say they think they have been guilty of drink-driving, either immediately after consuming alcohol or the morning after a late night drinking session.
Five per cent of motorists surveyed felt sure they were over the limit shortly after having a drink while 3% think they may have been over. Worryingly, a larger proportion admit to believing they have driven when over the limit the morning after drinking heavily the night before. Of the 10% who said this, 2% were sure they had done so while 8% think they might have done.
The study also found that men are more likely to risk drink-driving than women, both straight after drinking and the morning after. And Londoners have a greater tendency to drive while over the limit: in the capital, only 74% say they don’t think they have been guilty of this, compared with 84% in the general population and 89% of those who live in rural areas, which is surprising given the better access to public transport provision in the capital and the greater dependence of those in rural areas on their cars to get home after a night out.
As the country is in the midst of the Christmas party season the RAC is highlighting the ‘morning after’ issue in an attempt to get every motorist to make sure they are safe to drive the next day.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Anyone who has been out celebrating during the festive period should be very mindful of not being over the limit when they go to drive the next day. Anyone who thinks they are likely to have sobered up enough to drive just because they went to bed for a few hours may just be about to ruin someone else’s Christmas as well as their own.
“It is vital that everyone who has been drinking leaves sufficient time for their body to process the alcohol they have consumed. The trouble is everyone metabolises alcohol at different rates so the message has to be to err on the side of caution by leaving extra time before deciding to drive, or better still to use an alternative form of transport such as bus, taxi or train, or get a lift from a friend or colleague.
“If you are having to think whether you are sober enough to drive then the answer is you probably aren’t.
“The dangers of drink-driving are truly horrific and should never be underestimated. Never have the words ‘it’s better to be safe than sorry’ been more appropriate.
“Apart from the obvious dangers of being involved in accidents when drink-driving, police forces will be actively targeting drink-drivers during December so anyone found to be over the limit risks losing their licence as well as a hefty fine.”
And almost a quarter (24%) of motorists surveyed listed drivers under the influence of drink as one of their top-four concerns.
Motorists’ fears about drink-driving appear to be well justified as government statistics for Britain show there has been little change in the number of casualties from reported road accidents between 2012 and 2016 where one of the drivers or riders involved was impaired by alcohol. In both years 143** people lost their lives in such accidents, and very similar numbers did so in the years in between, totalling 702 over the five years.
The research also revealed there is extensive general public support for a UK-wide reduction in the legal blood-alcohol limit to 50 milligrams per 100ml – as enforced in Scotland – or even to 20 milligrams, with six in 10 (59%) British motorists saying they are in favour of 50mg or less becoming law.
As of this year the drink-drive law and the roadside breath test have been in force for 50 years and in that time the legal blood-alcohol limitin England and Wales has not been reduced. While the 80mg (milligrams) of alcohol per 100ml (millilitres) of blood limit has been in place since a legal maximum was introduced, Scotland took the decision to cut to 50mg in December 2014 and Northern Ireland is in the process of doing the same. England and Wales are not only lagging behind their neighbours, but are also out of kilter with the rest of Europe where, with few exceptions, 50mg per 100ml is the legal limit.
More information about the legal alcohol limits for driving can be found in the RAC’s comprehensive guide to the UK drink-drive limits.
Notes to Editors
* The RAC Report on Motoring 2017 is based on a largescale online survey of 1,727 motorists carried out by Quadrangle in May 2017.
** RAS50007 Casualties in reported accidents by contributory factor and severity, Great Britain, 2012
For all media enquiries, please contact the RAC press office team on +44 (0)1454 664 123. The line is manned by an on-call press officer outside office hours.
Our press team can:
- Answer all RAC-related media enquiries
- Provide comment on all topical UK motoring stories
- Provide motoring research and data to inform debate
- Give motoring advice for broadcast or publication
- Arrange interviews with RAC spokespeople - ISDN radio studio facilities available
You can also follow the RAC press office on Twitter: twitter.com/RACPress
About the RAC
First formed in 1897 the RAC has been looking after the needs of its members and championing the interests of motorists for 120 years.
Today it has more than eight million members and is one of the UK’s most progressive motoring organisations, providing services for both private and business motorists. Whether it's roadside assistance, insurance, buying a used car, vehicle inspections and checks, legal services or up-to-the-minute traffic and travel information – the RAC offers a solution for all motoring needs. The RAC is committed to making motoring easier, safer, more affordable and more enjoyable for drivers and road users.
The RAC is the motorist’s champion and campaigns to support the interests of its members and UK motorists at a national level. This includes voicing concerns about the increasing cost of motoring, particularly the price of fuel and the high level of tax levied on it, advancing levels of road safety, and supporting the needs of all drivers, from young to old.
The RAC’s annual Report on Motoring – first published in 1989 – provides a clear insight into the concerns and issues facing today’s motorists.
For the very latest news on UK fuel prices, check RAC Fuel Watch or follow #racfuelwatch on Twitter. RAC Fuel Watch is a comprehensive guide to the latest UK unleaded petrol and diesel prices – both at the wholesale level and at the pump. RAC Fuel Watch analyses how prices changed through the previous month and compares the most recent prices with those from three, six and 12 months before.
- RAC patrols fix four out of five vehicles at the roadside and on average within 30 minutes
- RAC vans carry more than 500 parts and tools to get members’ vehicles going again
- 92% of members would recommend RAC Rescue to their friends and family