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Reducing the drink drive limit in Scotland

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CHAPTER 1

Introduction

1.01 The consequences of drink driving can be tragic.

1.02 Transport Scotland’s Reported Road Casualties Scotland 2010[1] estimate that just over one in nine deaths each year on Scotland’s roads is the result of drink driving.

1.03 In 2009 there were 30 fatalities and 920 casualties estimated to be due to drink driving. For the period 2005-2009, it is estimated that on average each year there were 30 fatal accidents, 130 serious accidents and 520 minor accidents that were the result of drink driving.

1.04 These figures demonstrate that Scotland has a continuing problem with drink driving and it is a problem the Scottish Government is determined to address.

1.05 Drink driving remains a constant hindrance to efforts in Scotland to make our roads and communities safer and continues to be the cause of far too many accidents, injuries and deaths on our roads.

Overview of the effect of drink driving

1.06 Transport Scotland’s Reported Road Casualties Scotland publication is produced each year and provides detailed statistics about a range of matters related to the impact of drink driving including road accidents, accident costs, the vehicles involved, drivers and riders’ drink-drive accidents, drivers’ breath tested and casualties.

1.07 The 2010 publication includes the latest data available for drink driving relating to the year 2009 (data for the year 2010 will be included in the Reported Road Casualties Scotland Report 2011 which is due to be published October 2012).

1.08 Information contained in the 2010 publication relating to the estimated number of reported drink drive accidents and casualties is provided on the table below.

1.09 When considering the data summarised on the following pages, it should be kept in mind that there are no estimates for Scotland of the number of alcohol-related injury road accidents where legal alcohol levels are involved (i.e. where accidents have occurred and where alcohol may be in the driver’s system but at a level below the drink drive limit). There are also no estimates for Scotland of the numbers of non-injury (i.e. damage only) road accidents involving illegal alcohol levels.

Estimated Number of Reported Drink Drive Accidents and Casualties (Scotland), 1994 to 2009
Year Number of accidents Number of casualties
Fatal Serious Slight Total Killed Serious Slight Total
1994-98 average 50 210 520 770 50 290 830 1,170
1999 50 190 520 750 60 250 800 1,110
2000 40 190 550 780 40 240 860 1,150
2001 60 180 560 800 70 250 870 1,190
2002 40 160 620 820 50 240 970 1,270
2003 40 180 530 750 50 230 850 1,130
2004 30 140 540 710 40 170 850 1,060
2005 30 130 500 660 30 170 790 990
2006 30 130 550 720 30 160 780 980
2007 20 120 530 670 30 150 760 940
2008 30 140 490 660 40 170 760 960
2009 20 120 520 660 30 160 730 920
2005-2009 average 30 130 520 670 30 160 760 960

Note: individual columns may not sum to totals due to rounding

1.10 The UK Government’s Department for Transport produce annual estimates[2] for the cost of injury road accidents in Great Britain. These estimates can be applied to accidents in Scotland.

1.11 The Reported Road Casualties Report 2010 provides overall cost estimates for injury accidents in Scotland. Applying these cost figures over a four year period (2005-2009) to the estimates of drink drive accidents on page 8 of this consultation would indicate an estimated average total cost of around £80m per year for drink drive injury accidents in Scotland.

Cost Per Accident By Road Type and Severity In Scotland (£) for 2010 (at 2009 Prices)
Category of road Accident Severity Average
for all
injury
accidents
Damage only Average
for all
accidents
Fatal Serious Slight
Non built-up roads 1,927,326 219,964 22,095 132,251 2,617 17,348
Built-up roads 1,706,364 193,176 18,998 59,192 1,769 4,840
Motorways 1,604,005 212,566 26,753 66,146 2,517 9,916
Trunk roads only 2,006,133 224,019 22,872 122,490 2,362 14,152
All roads 1,855,013 205,303 20,306 84,693 1,949 7,505

1.12 The table below provides information recorded by the police for period 2006/07 to 2011/12 on the number of driving under the influence offences broken down into individual crime-codes.

1.13 While there has been a welcome reduction in the number of drink drive convictions in recent years, it is still the case that a high number of drivers opt to get behind the wheel while under the influence, posing a danger to innocent road users by ignoring the warning and putting lives at risk.

Drink Driving Offences 2006 to 2012
Year
Offence 2006-07 2007-08 2008-09 2009-10 2010-11 2011-12
Driving motor vehicle while unfit through drink or drugs[1] 761 651 547 488 502 584
In charge of motor vehicle while unfit through drink/drugs 111 107 88 78 59 63
Driving motor vehicle with blood alcohol content above prescribed limit 7,652 7,177 6,774 5,840 4,979 4,889
In charge of motor vehicle while blood alcohol content above limit 754 640 566 471 484 433
Failure to provide breath specimen at roadside 1,041 931 779 643 633 577
Failure to provide breath, blood or urine specimen at police station 1,385 1,191 1,046 984 906 899
Total 11,704 10,697 9,800 8,504 7,563 7,445