The charity Brake has welcomed police efforts to catch drunk and drug drivers over the Christmas period, but warns that more must be done by government to stamp out this deadly menace.

    7,100 people were arrested in the month-long police Christmas and New Year campaign targeting drink and drug drivers, up 16% from the same period last year, according to Association of Chief Police Officer figures released today. Read more.

    Police used intelligence to focus on known routes favoured by drink and drug drivers and act on information from the public, enabling an increase in arrests despite breath tests being down by 8% compared to 2010.The number of Field Impairment Tests for drug driving increased by a third (36%), with 17% of these resulting in arrest.

    Brake praises police for their work to tackle drink and drug driving in the face of severe budget cuts. However, Brake is urging the government to make it easier to catch drink and drug drivers, and enable a greater deterrent against this deadly behaviour, by:

    • introducing roadside drug testing devices and creating a new offence making it illegal to drive with illegal drugs in your body, removing the need to prove impairment
    • giving police powers for random breath-testing, to enable far more tests to be carried out through targeted, high profile campaigns
    • making roads policing a national policing priority, to send a clear directive that this vital frontline policing should be given great investment and priority.

    Read more about Brake’s not a drop, not a drag campaign.

    See below for facts on drink and drug driving.

    Ellen Booth, Brake senior campaigns officer said: “As a charity that supports families devastated by road death and injury, we see the appalling suffering that results from drink and drug driving. Brake commends the police for their continuing hard work protecting the public from those who flout drink and drug driving laws, but we need to see action by government to stamp out these needless tragedies. Brake is calling for roadside drug testing devices and a new offence of driving with illegal drugs in your system. We also need greater priority given to roads policing by government, to ensure drivers are made clear that they can’t and won’t get away with taking these abhorrent and selfish risks. Our message to drivers is clear – no amount of alcohol or illegal drugs is safe to drive on – not a drop, not a drag.”

    ACPO lead for Roads Policing DCC SuzetteDavenport said: “Driving under the influence of any substance, whether it is alcohol or drugs, is unacceptable. Alcohol and drugs can affect your ability to judge speed and distances, reduce concentration and delay reaction speed. Worst of all it can kill, and that’s a life sentence no-one would want to live with.

    “There is no safe limit on drinking alcohol. The only way to ensure that you are driving safely, is to not drink alcohol at all. Even just the one drink can significantly impair your judgement and for that reason I recommend drivers don’t drink alcohol and drive.”

    Anyone who has been bereaved or seriously injured in a crash can call the Brake helpline for support on 0845 603 8570 .

    Facts – drink driving

    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. 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. Research shows that even very small amounts of alcohol significantly increase reaction times and therefore your risk of crashing

    Alcohol is a prevalent risk factor for young drivers. Young drivers are the most likely age group to be recorded as impaired by alcohol after crashing and they have more drink drive crashes per licence holder or per mile travelled than any other age group.

    Facts – drug driving

    Drug driving is a widespread menace. In the UK, around 18% of people killed in road crashes have traces of illegal drugs in their blood, with cannabis being the most common [5]. Young drivers are much more likely to take illegal drugs and drive than their older counterparts. Drivers under 25 years old are nearly four times as likely to drive on illegal drugs as older drivers (11% compared to 3%).

    Different drugs affect people in different ways and the effects can last for days, sometimes without someone realising. Researchers at the University Claude Bernard in Lyon, France, found taking cannabis almost doubles the risk of being involved in a fatal car crash while mixing cannabis with alcohol increased crash risk 16-fold.


    Brake is an independent road safety charity. Brake exists to stop the five deaths and 65 serious injuries that happen on UK roads every day and to care for families bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes. Brake runs awareness-raising campaigns, community education programmes, events such as Road Safety Week (19-25 November 2012), and a Fleet Safety Forum, providing advice to companies. Brake’s support division cares for road crash victims through a helpline and other services.