New drink-drive research highlights better education need, says Swanswell

09 September 2014

Swanswell’s renewing calls for better education around the consequences of drink-driving after new research reveals one in six women have got behind the wheel while over the legal limit.

The national recovery charity, which wants to achieve a society free from problem alcohol and drug use, is responding to the results of a survey, published today by Direct Line Car Insurance and Rees Jeffreys Road Fund.

According to the survey, millions of women in the UK regularly consume alcohol and take to the roads, with half admitting they’re confused about how much they can legally drink before getting behind the wheel.

It also highlights an increase in drink-drive convictions among female drivers, rising from 9% in 1998 to 17% in 2012.

Feeling physically ‘OK to drive’ and a belief that they can just ‘drive carefully’ were among the main explanations given by women as to why they’ve got behind the wheel after drinking alcohol, according to the survey (Guardian).      

230 people were killed in drink-drive crashes on UK roads in 2012, according to the latest government statistics, and almost 10,000 were injured or seriously injured.

While there are strict limits in the UK around alcohol use before driving, it’s not possible to say how much someone can drink and still stay below the limit of 80 milligrammes of alcohol in 100 millilitres of blood.

Alcohol affects people in different ways and many factors influence how quickly alcohol’s processed by the body such as weight; age; sex; and metabolism; as well as the type and amount someone’s drinking; what they’ve recently eaten; and stress levels at the time.

Debbie Bannigan, Swanswell’s Chief Executive, said: ‘Hundreds of lives are needlessly lost and thousands of people are injured every year in drink-drive incidents – all of which can be prevented in the first place.

Today’s research further highlights the need for better education and clearer information about the risks of getting behind the wheel after drinking – any amount of alcohol can affect judgement and reaction times, leading to serious consequences.

While the survey focuses on women, it’s important to stress that there are thousands of convictions among men too and we often hear the same explanations about why people drove after drinking, regardless of gender.

People who’ve completed our drink-drive awareness programmes often tell us that they wouldn’t have got behind the wheel after having alcohol, if they’d have known what they do now – that for us, speaks volumes.’

Swanswell will be taking its calls to the decision-makers during September and October when it runs fringe events at the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrats party conferences.    

Debbie added: ‘Education already exists to help people understand the consequences of drink-driving but it tends to be offered when it’s too late – when someone’s been convicted.

Later this month, we’ll be revealing a simple solution that could save hundreds of lives and hundreds of millions of pounds every year.

‘Ultimately however, the best way to ensure you’re not over the limit and putting lives at risk is not to drink at all if you’re planning to drive.’

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