Morning-after drink driving on the rise38% drive the morning after drinking to excess

14 December 2010

Morning-after drink-driving is on the rise

More than a third of motorists admit to driving first thing in the morning after drinking excessively the night before, according to a new survey.

Road safety charity Brake and insurer Direct Line found 38% of motorists said they’d driven or ridden a motorcycle to work the morning after drinking large amounts of alcohol.

That is a 10% increase over seven years ago, when 28% said they’d driven the morning after consuming excessive amounts of alcohol.

The survey also highlighted a lack of understanding about how long alcohol remains in the body and how a small amount of alcohol affects driving.

Read our driving advice

Morning-after drink-driving: figures

The recent survey of 800 drivers and motorcyclists also found 35% of those questioned admitted to driving after drinking any amount of alcohol in the past year.

However, this figure is a distinct improvement in comparison to seven years ago when 51% admitted getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Almost half of the people surveyed (45%) believed they needed to consume two or more units of alcohol to be affected, and 14% thought it would take three or four units - or more - to make a difference to their driving.

One in six deaths on British roads is due to drink-driving

With 380 people being killed in accidents involving drivers over the drink-drive limit, and the festive season being the most common time for drink-driving due to Christmas parties and an increase in daytime drinking, the lack of drink-drive awareness remains a serious issue.

In 2009, there were seven drink-drive deaths and 28 serious injuries every week. And an estimated 80 road deaths per year are caused by drivers who believed they were sober enough to drive, but still had traces of alcohol in their blood.

There is no definitive period for how long it takes to sober up after drinking, but it is recommended that you allow at least one hour per unit consumed to rid the body of the alcohol.

Therefore, if you have nine units of strong beer (three pints of strong lager) at 11pm, you may have alcohol in your system up until 9am. However, it could take a shorter or longer amount of time depending on a multitude of factors, including your weight and your body's capability of absorbing the alcohol.

Sleep, food and coffee have been proven to have no effect on how fast you can sober up.

Brake: ‘don’t drink if you’re driving; don’t drive if you’re drinking’

Julie Townsend, campaigns director at Brake, said: “Many drivers seem to be oblivious to the risks of drink-driving in the morning, after drinking the night before. The effect of alcohol on driving ability lasts much longer than a couple of hours after drinking.

“Motorists who have drunk excessive amounts may not feel drunk and may not be able to smell drink on their breath. However, they are still a danger to pedestrians and other road users.

“With this week being the busiest for festive parties, we are urging people not to drink if they’re driving, and not to drive if they are drinking.”

As well as warning drivers about the risks of drink-driving during the festive period, Brake is also calling for the Government to make changes to current laws and attitudes towards drink-driving.

Brake has already urged the government to cut the limit to 20mg alcohol per 100ml of blood from 80mg per 100ml of blood - and called for an increase in enforcement and awareness about drink-driving.

Do you think zero tolerance to drink-drive limits would make a difference? Post your comments at Which? Conversation by clicking here

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