Motorists in the South East are being warned to watch out for drink-drivers, as new data reveals the region topped the list for having the most offences recorded in 2017.
New Freedom of Information data obtained by Confused.com, the driver savings site, revealed 7,413 motorists in the region were arrested or convicted for driving over the legal alcohol limit in 2017 – accounting for almost a fifth (18%) of the UK’s total drink-driving offences for the year(1). In total, 41,041 UK drivers were caught drunk behind the wheel throughout 2017.
Motorists in the Thames Valley area should be particularly cautious on the roads, as the data shows that the area saw the highest number of drunk-drivers in the region in 2017. In total, 2,328 motorists were arrested by Thames Valley Police for being over the legal drink-drive limit.
However, further research by the driver savings site suggests that motorists should also be on the lookout for boozy drivers while the sun is out. Almost two fifths (39%) of motorists in the region admit to driving after having an alcoholic drink, with more than three fifths (61%) doing so during the summer. This is compared to just two fifths (39%) who have driven after drinking over Christmas, and one in four (25%) on a bank holiday weekend. And with the sunny weather we’ve been having recently, it is likely drink-driving offences in the South East could accelerate in 2018, especially as more hot weather is promised for the rest of the summer.
But drivers across the UK are risking more than driving after a drink or two, with some taking to the wheel while they still feel a bit drunk. In fact, almost a fifth (17%) of UK motorists say they have driven while knowingly being over the legal alcohol limit. But what is worrying is that sometimes a good night’s sleep isn’t quite enough to sober them up. In fact, almost a quarter (24%) of those who have driven while still feeling drunk did so between the hours of 6am and 12pm. To prevent motorists from taking the risk and driving while still drunk, Confused.com has created a ‘morning after calculator’ which allows users to input their drink of choice, how many glasses they have had, and when they stopped drinking, to estimate when their body will be free of any trace of alcohol.
But regardless of how much you drink, or what time you finish, it’s no secret that drink-driving is extremely dangerous and puts other road users at risk. In fact, one in eight (12%) UK drivers say they have had an accident or near-miss caused by drink-driving. And given so many drivers admit to drink-driving over the course of the summer, it’s no surprise that more than one in 10 (11%) of these accidents or near-misses happened between the months of May and August. So far, 2018 is on course to be a boozier year, with 13,614 offences recorded between January and April, compared to 13,408 over the same four months in 2017. But there is still hope for more sun coming our way, which means people aren’t leaving the pub gardens quite yet. In fact, the research by Confused.com suggests drivers find drink-driving to be more of an issue over the summer months, with almost half (45%) believing the hot weather encourages people to drink more alcohol. Not only this, but more than a third (37%) say that motorists are more likely to drive after having an alcoholic drink when the sun is out.
But as drivers make the most of the sunny weather, it can be difficult to keep track of how many Pimms or gin and tonics they are knocking back. But monitoring alcohol intake could help motorists decide when it is safe to drive.
Amanda Stretton, motoring editor at Confused.com, says: “Drink-driving is an offence that continues to plague our roads, and it seems the South East saw the worst of the problem last year. And worryingly, the summer months are encouraging drivers to jump behind the wheel after a drink or two.
“We know that it can be hard for motorists to calculate how many units they’ve had, and how long they have to wait until they can drive. So we’ve created a morning-after calculator to give drivers a rough idea as to how much alcohol is still in their system, and how long it typically takes to leave their body.
“Drink driving is a dangerous and punishable offence, which can seriously impact the safety of our roads and put other road users at risk. The offence can land drivers with a fine, or even a driving ban, which can have a negative impact on their car insurance premiums. To avoid getting caught out, we suggest drivers stop drinking early if they know they have to get behind the wheel in the morning, but the best advice would be to avoid drinking alcohol at all.”