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Breath tests on drivers are down


11:37am 19th April 2012
(Updated 11:38am 19th April 2012)

10% fewer drivers were breathalysed by police in England and Wales in 2010 than 2009, according to govenment statisitcs released today.

Police conducted an average of 13 tests per 1,000 population, but variation in frequency of testing was high across forces. North Wales Police conducted 43 tests per 1,000 residents, while drivers in the West Midlands were subject to a mere one test per 1,000 population.

In January Brake warned that huge cuts to road policing across Great Britain would make it harder for the police to provide an effective deterrence against drink driving. 

International evidence shows enforcement of traffic laws is highly effective in preventing devastating deaths and injuries by deterring drivers from potentially deadly behaviour behind the wheel. Increasing numbers of breath tests is shown to lead to reductions in drink drive casualties [1].

Ellen Booth, Brake senior campaigns officer, said: “It is deeply concerning that breath testing has decreased so dramatically. This should be a wakeup call for the government. We desperately need greater priority given to roads policing by the government, to ensure drivers are made clear that they can’t and won’t get away with taking abhorrent and selfish risks. Our message to drivers is that drinking any amount of alcohol and getting behind the wheel is a risk not worth taking.”

In 2010, one in seven road deaths involved drink drivers. 250 road deaths and 1,230 road casualties occurred when someone was over the drink drive limit [2]. Many more drink-drive crashes are caused by drivers who only have small amounts of alcohol in their blood. A further estimated 65 road deaths per year are caused by drivers who are under the drink-drive limit, but who have a significant amount of alcohol in their blood [3]. Research shows that even very small amounts of alcohol significantly increase reaction times and therefore your risk of crashing [4].

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