A summer crackdown on drink driving will target the young, the Department of Transport confirmed today.
The announcement came as research by BBC Radio One’s Newsbeat claimed police were concerned about an increase in drink driving among 17 to 24-year-olds.
Leicestershire Police released figures to the BBC showing almost half of drivers caught drink driving during the Christmas period were 30 or younger.
In London, Scotland Yard said their figures showed a quarter of all those arrested were aged 17 to 24 but reported no significant increase year-on-year.
A Leicestershire Police spokeswoman said: ‘There is evidence that the trend we have seen in our force region is being repeated across the country.’
The Home Office said its official figures would be released ‘in due course’ and would not comment on the BBC’s research.
The department’s figures show the proportion of people disqualified for more than a year for offences of ‘driving after consuming alcohol or taking drugs’ has steadily increased from 59 per cent in 1996 to 69 per cent in 2004.
In 2004, 578,000 screening breath tests were carried out – 8 per cent more than 2003.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Transport said it was launching a new campaign this summer, aimed at young men in the 17-to-29 age group.
She would not give further details about the nature of the campaign, other than to say it would be ‘wide-ranging’.
The department is already running a series of anti-drink drive adverts aimed at men under the age of 29.
She said: ‘We have been working very hard over the last 30 years to educate the public about drink driving.
‘There was a time when it was socially acceptable. Nowadays it is totally socially unacceptable.
‘There is always more that can be done. We are always researching it and trying to understand the problem.
‘We believe there is more work that can be done with young people.’
Carole Whittingham, founder of Scard (Support and Care After Road Death and Injury), said more needed to be done to educate young people about the dangers.
‘There are several causes of why young people think they can drink and drive,’ she said.
‘The first thing that comes to mind is confusion as to what one unit (of alcohol) actually is.’
She said she recently spoke to a group of learner drivers who though that one unit of alcohol was the equivalent of one drink, and blamed the ‘binge-drink culture’ for young people ignoring the warnings.
A voluntary agreement announced yesterday between ministers and the industry means all drinks will be expected to carry details of units and recommended safe drinking levels on their labels by the end of 2008.
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