Drink-drive deaths fall

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The Independent Online

Deaths from drink-drive accidents fell sharply last year, provisional Government figures showed today.

There were 250 deaths in 2010 - 35% fewer than the 2009 total of 380, the Department for Transport said.

Serious injuries in drink-drive incidents fell 18% to 1,230 and slight injuries were down 19% at 8,220.

The big fall will hearten the Government, the police and road safety campaigners. After a slight rise in drink-drive deaths in 2006, numbers fell in 2007, but the subsequent annual declines in 2008 and 2009 were small ones, prompting fears that the anti drink-drive message was not getting through to hardened offenders.

In 1979, when drink-drive casualty records began, there were as many as 1,640 alcohol-related deaths.

Transport Minister Norman Baker said today: "The provisional figures for 2010 suggest the number of drink-drive deaths is now 83% lower than 30 years ago. This is very welcome.

"However, we are determined to continue to take firm action against the small minority of drivers who still ignore the limit.

"That is why we are taking forward a package of measures to streamline enforcement against both drink and drug-driving - including approving portable evidential breath testing equipment and drug testing devices which will speed up the testing process and free up police time."

The Department for Transport (DfT) also today published provisional figures for all road casualties - not just alcohol-related - for the first three months of 2011.

They showed that 440 people were killed in reported road accidents in January-March 2011 - 6% more than in the same period last year when severe weather kept many people off the roads.

The milder winter of 2011 also meant that pedal cyclist casualties rose 26% compared with January-March 2010 while motorcyclist casualties increased 16% and pedestrian casualties were up 4%. However, the number of car-occupant casualties fell 7%.

Road traffic was estimated to have increased 1.8% in the first three months of this year compared with the same period last year.

The DfT said: "The increases in levels of traffic and accidents in the first quarter of 2011 relative to the same period in 2010 are likely to be influenced by the heavy snowfall in the first quarter of 2010.

"The number of road traffic accidents in the first quarter of 2010 was reduced compared to previous and subsequent years."