There was a significant rise in the number of people killed as a result of drink driving in 2012 compared with the previous year, according to the Department for Transport.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists had disclosed earlier this year that the Government’s spending on road safety campaigns had fallen from £19 million in 2008-9 to only £4 million in 2011-12.
Additionally, the Department for Transport spent £1.7 million on drink-drive related advertising in the last financial year, which is only half of the £3.4 million spent in 2009-10.
According to the latest estimates, which the Department for Transport does insist are only provisional, the number of people killed as a result of drink-driving rose to 290 in 2012 from 230 in the previous year. This represents an increase of over 25%.
The Department for Transport admitted it had made cuts as part of the need to deliver efficiency savings, but that it was targeting its campaigns where it thought they would have the greatest impact.
Neil Greig, director of policy and research at the Institute of Advanced Motorists, had this to say: “Drink drive deaths are the ultimate indicator of success in dealing with the problem and these figures are worrying there is no doubt cutting back on advertising could be one of the reasons why this has gone up.”
Nearly a third of those killed in drink-drive accidents were other road users, who were not necessarily over the limit.
The AA’s president, Edmund King, elaborated: “Drink driving is a menace to everyone on our roads and it is very disappointing to see that the estimated number of fatalities as a result of drunk drivers has increased.
“Behind every statistic is a personal tragedy that could have been avoided for these 290 people.
“The increase in drink drive deaths in 2012 could be linked to more opportunities to drink and then drive during the ‘summer of sport’ from the Euro 2012 football tournament through to the Olympics in July and August.
“Road safety publicity budgets, both nationally and regionally, have also been slashed so this may have had a knock on effect as police enforcement has remained fairly consistent. “We need to keep reinforcing the message that drinking and driving don’t mix. All drivers need to take heed of this and ensure that if they are going to be driving, that they adopt a zero tolerance approach and don’t drink anything alcoholic at all.
“If you are going to drive don’t drink and if you are going to drink, don’t drive.”
The Government’s record was defended however by Norman Baker, the local transport minister, who pointed out that the figures were still provisional. He said: “These latest figures are provisional, but any road death is one too many and we are absolutely not complacent when it comes to road safety,” he said. “That is why we are taking forward a package of measures to streamline enforcement against drink-driving, including approving portable evidential breath-testing equipment which will allow for more effective and efficient enforcement.”
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