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The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents is disappointed that thousands of drivers chose to put themselves and others at risk by drink or drug driving over the Christmas period. 

Figures released today by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) show that 7,124 drivers were arrested during a month-long drink-drive crackdown that ran across England and Wales from December 1, 2011 until January 1, 2012.

Across all age groups, this represented 4.55 per cent of those who were breath-tested. For drivers under the age of 25, 5.73 per cent of those tested were arrested, demonstrating the need to press on with drink-drive education among this younger age group. 

On drug driving, 540 field impairment tests were conducted (a rise from 396 during the previous year’s campaign), and 91 (16.85 per cent) of those tested were then arrested. 

Kevin Clinton, RoSPA’s head of road safety, said: “It is extremely disappointing but sadly not surprising that, despite three decades of drink-drive education and enforcement, thousands of drivers were caught drinking and driving in just one month. 

“Drink driving kills and maims. Provisional figures show that 250 people were killed in drink-drive accidents on Great Britain’s roads in 2010 – accounting for 14 per cent of all road fatalities. In addition, 1,230 people were seriously injured and 8,220 people were slightly injured in accidents involving someone who was over the legal alcohol limit. These casualty figures plus today’s Christmas campaign figures from ACPO illustrate the fact that we cannot ease up on the fight to keep drink drivers off our roads. 

“On drug driving, we welcome the increase in the number of field impairment tests conducted. However, the number of people arrested on suspicion of drug driving compared to the number of people arrested on suspicion of drink driving shows the need for the expert panel recently announced by the Department for Transport to produce recommendations that will make it easier to detect drivers who are under the influence of illegal drugs.”

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