We’ve come a long way since the 1970s when, each year, alcohol-related casualties on British roads totalled the tens of thousands, and the 1980s, when there were often more than a thousand drink driving-related deaths a year. From 2000-2014 the total number of drink driving casualties went from more than 18,000 to around 8,200, with the number of fatalities falling from 530 to 240 – and this during a period that has seen the number of cars on UK roads soar, with figures rising from 21 million in 1994 to almost 31 million in 2014.
There is no question, then, that government campaigns to boost awareness of the inherent dangers of drink driving have successfully seeped into the national conscious, bringing about a real sea change in public opinion and culture at large. Today, drink driving in the UK isn’t just frowned upon, it’s positively demonised.
To highlight just how impressive this evolution of British attitudes has been, just compare the UK’s drink driving statistics with those from across the pond. In 1993 there were 123 million self-reported episodes of alcohol-impaired driving and in 2012 there were 121 million – so barely any movement at all. Meanwhile, the high of 161 million self-reported incidents of alcohol-impaired driving occurred as recently as 2006.
But there is no room for complacency; drink driving is still a fact of British culture. In 2014, there were 538 drink driving-related accidents between the hours of 6am and 12pm; drivers largely getting caught out the morning after.
So if you are with someone who you think may be about to drink and drive, it is essential that you do you bit to make sure they don’t put anyone at risk – taking action might just save someone’s life. But what can you do if you’re with someone who is drinking and has their car parked outside? Perhaps you cannot be certain if they intend to drive back home but can you simply leave it to fate?
Here are 3 things you can do to reduce the possibility of another drink driving incident occurring:
- Speak up and speak up early. Don’t wait until closing hours to voice any concern. Dissuade a friend from drink driving and organise an alternative before they become can too drunk to listen.
- Remain neutral. Rather than saying ‘If you drive now, I’ll be really angry,’ say ‘You’ll be breaking the law if you drive now and you could lose your driving licence.’ Your aim here is not to initiate an argument or to win a battle of wills, it is simply to prevent your friend from drink driving. Objective statements will be difficult for him or her to contest.
- Call a taxi service. If your friend has still not convinced you that he or she will not drive home, take pre-emptive action and organise transport with or without their consent. This way, your friend will have no obstacle in their returning home without their car.
For more information on drink driving and being safe on British roads, THINK! offers an excellent range of resources and up-to-date information.