Health & Safety

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UK Road Safety Week 2009

16 January 2010

'Brake' the road safety charity is organising Road Safety Week, 23-29 November 2009. The theme for 2009's Road Safety Week is: "Not a drop, Not a drag - Stay Sober, Save Lives".

Road Safety Week 2009 - young driver smoking

In Road Safety Week 2009, 'Brake' is calling on all drivers to commit to not drink even a drop of alcohol before driving, nor take even a drag on a joint or any other illegal drug. Brake is calling on communities to inform the police of known drunk and drugged drivers and help save a life.

There have been so many awareness-raising campaigns about the dangers of drink driving but some people still drink and drive. This can be just after drinking alcohol, but also the morning after drinking. Some drivers drive after taking illegal drugs that can stay in the system for weeks or even months.

At least 15,935 people in the UK were killed or hurt by drink and drug-drivers in 2007. That is:

  • 1,328 people every month,
  • 306 people every week,
  • 44 people every day,
  • 2 people every hour.

One in six deaths on UK roads are caused by drivers over the legal alcohol limit. In the UK, 478 people were killed by drivers over the drink-drive limit in 2007. Although accurate drug-driving figures aren't available, research by the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL), suggests that similar numbers of deaths may be due to illegal drug drivers. Researchers at TRL found that 17% of drivers who die in road crashes (almost one in five) have traces of illegal drugs in their system that may have affected their driving. TRL also found that almost 6% of drivers (one in 17 drivers) who die in road crashes have traces of medicinal drugs that may have affected their driving.

Drug driving - the facts

The different ways that drugs can affect a driver's behaviour and body include:

  • slower reaction times,
  • poor concentration,
  • sleepiness/fatigue,
  • confused thinking,
  • distorted perception,
  • over-confidence.

Drink driving - the facts

If you drive at twice the legal alcohol limit you are at least 30 times more likely to cause a road crash than a driver who has not been drinking.

  • your reaction times are slower after just one drink,
  • you can't judge speed or distances accurately,
  • you are over-confident and you make bad decisions.

The speed at which alcohol is absorbed into your system (and how quickly your system gets rid of it) depends on a large number of factors, including your sex, weight, metabolism, health and when you last ate. You may still be over the limit the morning after - nearly one in six convicted drink-drivers are caught the morning after. Women are much less likely than men to be involved in drink drive crashes as drivers. However, nearly a third of the total casualties in drink drive crashes are women.

  • Never drink any amount of alcohol if you're driving,
  • Never drink if you're driving early the next morning,
  • Take responsibility for others and never buy a drink for someone who is driving,
  • Tell your employer immediately (and in confidence) if you catch a colleague drink-driving, for their own safety and that of other road users.

Getting caught drink or drug driving

If you kill someone after drink or dug driving, you could go to prison for 14 years for the offence of causing death by careless driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Even if you don't kill someone but are caught, you could face six months in prison, a one year ban and a 5,000 fine. If you think you won't get caught, think again. More than half a million breath tests for alcohol are carried out each year. Some drugs can still be traced in your system more then a month after you took them.