The results of the annual Anti Drink-Drive Campaigns are now in and in the words of Young Mr. Grace “You’ve all done very well” (almost)…
Continuing the ‘Are You Being Served’ analogy I would ask the question; Are we actually ‘being served’ or is this; just another example of ‘PR spin’ on the manipulation of statistics? A process designed to enhance the popularity of politicians and senior police officers whilst hopefully making us (the public) feel a little happier about things that concern us.Over the festive season police forces are instructed by the Government Home Office (HO) to make a concerted effort to curb drink driving. This annual campaign in reality is just a statistics gathering process; often there are no ‘special operations’ or ‘increased visibility’ simply because there are no ‘extra’ officers. In reality drink driving at Christmas is dealt with by police officers in exactly the same manner they do all year, just now they have to fill out an additional HO stats return form… More bloody paperwork!
So the stats are in, the Govt. and ACPO are happy and, police PR departments have spun their success stories; ‘Tough action sees drink-drive levels plummet’ or ‘County roads safer due to police zero tolerance intervention’. But don’t forget the well-known saying about statistics and lies! ACPO hailed the national campaign as a ‘success’ with 16.5% reduction in during the period whilst North Yorkshire reported an increase in both tests and arrests? Forces across the country differed with both positive and negative percentage trends but in many cases still managed a positive ‘spin’ on the results. Doesn’t this go some way to show that statistics can ‘prove’ anything depending on how you ‘interpret’ them?
Of course there are a lot of variables involved during these campaigns. This year’s (2009-10) sudden cold snap and severe weather is a case in point. Would there be as many people out driving when there was so much snow about? How many officers were actually taking part in the campaign when local commanders were issuing instructions that ‘officers will not undertake routine patrol due to inclement weather conditions’? These are all factors that can totally skew the figures and, usually they are not taken into consideration whilst making literal assumptions based upon the raw data
The fact remains that; if these government led ‘initiatives’ were in fact so successful why are approximately 90,000 people still convicted of drink driving related offences in the UK each and every year and, why are over 90% of all convicted drink drivers male.
Research by BRAKE the Road Safety Charity has compared the opinions of younger and older drivers and found that; younger drivers were twice as likely to think there was no chance they would get caught drink driving. Out of a survey of more than 4,000 drivers, 1 in 12 young drivers (aged 17-25) thought there was no chance at all they’d get caught if they chose to drink drive, compared with 1 in 25 older drivers.
Brake is calling on the Government to implement random drink drive testing by an increased number of traffic police. Countries such as New Zealand and Australia, have successfully implemented random testing, often conducted at key times such as club kick out times late at night. Brake is also calling for a reduction in the UKs drink drive limit which is one of the highest in the world. Brake has been calling for some years for a limit of 50 mg/100 ml or less, compared with the current 80mg which encourages drivers to think one or two drinks is fine whereas the truth is that any amount of alcohol impairs your driving.
FACTS ABOUT YOUNG DRINK DRIVERS
- One in eight car licence holders are aged under 25, yet in more than one in three (35%) car crashes involving alcohol the drunk driver is aged under 25.
- More than 1 in 5 (22%) offenders convicted of being drunk drivers are under 25.
- One in three drivers who die on UK roads are under 25.
- In New South Wales, Australia, since the introduction of random breath testing in 1982, fatal crashes involving alcohol have dropped from 40 per cent of all fatalities to 19 per cent. (http://www.rta.nsw.gov.au)/)
I have to say I agree with BRAKE however, perhaps this is still not enough and the time has arrived for both random testing and the introduction of a 0% Blood Alcohol Consentration (BAC) limit?
Most Worldwide BAC limits are set at levels broadly similar to ours however; they range from a drink as much as you want mentality in some less developed countries to an absolute zero tolerance level in others. So if you want to legally drink and drive how about emigrating to the Democratic Republic of Congo or maybe Gabon?
- ACPO (Ass of Chief Police Officers England & Wales) http://www.acpo.police.uk/
- ACPOS (Ass of Chief Police Officers Scotland) http://www.acpos.police.uk/
- BBC News – Current affairs from home and abroad. www.bbc.co.uk/news
- Drink Aware – An independent UK-wide charity, aims to change the UK’s drinking habits for the better.
- BRAKE – The Road Safety Charity operates educational services for a wide range of road users. http://www.brake.org.uk/
- 95 Alive – North Yorkshire agencies working together to reduce the number of road casualties across North Yorkshire. http://www.roadwise.co.uk/
- Drinkdriving.org – primary mission is to raise public awareness about the dangers and possible consequences of drinking and driving for all those involved. http://www.drinkdriving.org/
- Dept. of Transport – Annual detailed analyses of road casualties and reports on trends in relation to casualty reduction targets. www.dft.gov.uk
- DofT Think! – Government Road Safety Campaign with a basic approach of national publicity using a mix of emotion and facts that raise the profile of road safety.. www.dft.gov.uk/think
- 2009 DofT TV Advert – Each year the Government produces a TV advertising campaign with a view to curbing the amount of drinking and driving.
BBC Report (24Jan10): Four out of five people back a cut in the drink-drive limit, according to a Scottish government-commissioned poll. 79% said they wanted to see the limit cut from 80mg per 100ml of blood to 50mg. Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill renewed SNP calls for the UK government to transfer power in this area to Scotland to allow him to take action. But Scottish Labour’s justice spokesman Richard Baker said UK ministers were already reviewing drink-drive limits.