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The price of a ‘merry’ Christmas

As the festive season rolls inexorably around once again, the annual problem of drink drivers comes once more to the fore. In 2012, 280 people were killed by drunk drivers – 17% more than the previous year, despite the fact that total road deaths were down by 8% overall.

Is the UK drink drive limit too low?

The shocking government figures quoted above are sobering enough, but in fact they only actually count those drivers who were over the legal drink driving limit of 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood. This limit is one of the highest permitted levels in Europe, with only Malta allowing more.

Yet studies show that you don’t have to be over the alcohol limit for it to affect your driving. The Institute of Alcohol Studies (IAS) found that just 20-50mg increases your risk of dying in an accident by a factor of three, while 50-80mg of alcohol – which is still under the UK legal limit – doubles that risk.

Don’t drink and drive

At the end of the day, drinking and driving is simply not worth the risk. As the highly impactful TV adverts on drink driving explain, it is not just your driving licence you could lose, but you could also lose your job, the respect of your family and friends and much more if you are caught.

What’s more, if you hit someone after you’ve had a drink, you will never know if you could’ve stopped or reacted quicker if you were completely sober. You will have to live with that question haunting you in your mind for the rest of your life.

Do you really need to drive this Christmas?

In the huge cost of Christmas, if you do want to have a drink, is a few extra pounds for a taxi really that much to pay? It is certainly a small price compared to the cost of getting caught drink driving or having an accident when under the influence. One less drink each at the bar will usually cover the cost of a taxi for four people.

If the cost of a taxi is just too much, choose a nominated driver for the night who will not drink at all. If you share this duty throughout the festive season, everyone gets to enjoy a drink and get a free ride home as well as a turn at playing taxi.

If you’re staying in or visiting friends over the festive season, remember that measures of alcohol at home are always bigger than pub measures, especially when everyone is in a party mood. You may only think that you’ve had one drink, but you could still be over the drink drive limit.

Finally, it is crucial to remember that you could still be over the legal limit the next morning if you have had a big session the night before. The later you stop drinking, the later you should think about driving the next day. Better (and safer) still, avoid driving at all for 24 hours to make sure the alcohol has cleared your system.

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