Drink-drive collisions and casualties

Drink-drive collisions and casualties

Table 22 refers

The numbers of drink-drive collisions and casualties both fell by 69% between 2011 and 2021 (the latest year for which estimates are available): from a rounded estimate of 490 to roughly 150 (collisions) and from around 670 to some 210 (casualties). While fluctuating from year to year, the number of people killed as a result of drink-drive collisions is estimated to be the same number in 2021 (10) as it was in 2011. The number of adjusted serious casualties is estimated to have dropped by 61% (from roughly 180 in 2011 to some 70 in 2021).

Drink-drive estimates: background

The Department for Transport (DfT) annually estimates the number of reported drink drive collisions: i.e. those reported injury road collisions involving drivers with illegal alcohol levels (above the current drink-drive limit of 80 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood or 35 micrograms per 100ml of breath in England and Wales or 50 milligrams (mg) of alcohol per 100 millilitres (ml) of blood or 22 micrograms per 100ml of breath in Scotland from the 5th December 2014).

DfT published GB final figures in July 2023. Scotland estimates are presented in Reported Road Casualties GB Table RAS2013 which was updated with 2021 data in July 2023. Because of the uncertainty involved figures are rounded to the nearest ten.

The DfT's publication outlines the estimation methods in detail. It draws on Stats 19 reported road collision data (where motor vehicle drivers or riders failed or refused to provide a sample of breath) and Procurators Fiscal (and Coroners in England and Wales) data on blood alcohol levels of drivers who died within 12 hours of being injured in a road collision. The estimates include allowances for the numbers of cases where drivers or riders are not breath tested due to the collision being a hit and run collision. Drink drive casualties are defined here as any casualties resulting from a drink drive collision.

Estimates for 2022 are not yet available because of the timing of the provision of the data regarding blood alcohol levels of fatalities from Procurators Fiscal (and Coroners in England and Wales) to DfT. At this stage the sample of 2022 data is insufficient to allow a breakdown by country.

There are no estimates for Scotland of the number of alcohol-related injury road collisions which involve legal alcohol levels (i.e. alcohol levels up to and including the current drink-drive limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood), nor are there any estimates for Scotland of the numbers of non-injury (damage only) road collisions involving illegal alcohol levels.

The figures here differ from the number of drivers with positive (or refused) breath tests. While the Police aim to breath test all drivers involved in an collision this isn't always possible (e.g. hit and run drivers or due to severity of casualty). Recently, just under two thirds of motorists involved in injury road collisions in Scotland have been breath tested.

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