10-year high in the number of drunk drivers involved in accidents

New figures have revealed that the number of drunk drivers involved in accidents has risen for the first time in a decade, the Telegraph reports.

According to Department for Transport (DfT) records, the number of drivers that failed a breath test after a crash had fallen every year from a high of 6,397 in 2005.

However, the latest figures have revealed an increase for the first time in ten years, rising from 3,227 in 2014 to 3,450 in 2015.

The AA believes the decreased police presence on the roads has led to motorists thinking they can avoid getting caught.

A spokesman for the AA said: "This is the same argument that has been used with people using mobile phones. The perception you are going to be caught is low so it tempts people."

AA president Edmund King described the figures as "frightening" and said that drivers need to realise the implications of driving over the limit.

King commented: "We need better targeting of potential drink drivers so the message gets out that they won't get away with it.

"Drivers also need to remember that they will get a minimum one year driving ban, big fine, hike in insurance costs and possibly lose their jobs."

The DfT figures echo the findings published in the 2016 RAC Report on Motoring which showed attitudes around drink-driving had softened. The research found that the number of motorists that admitted to driving over the limit had increased to 6%, up from 3% in 2012.

The RAC believes these latest figures "add to the argument" that the drink drive limit in England and Wales should be brought in line with that of Scotland.

In December 2014, the alcohol limit for drivers in Scotland was reduced from 80mg to 50mg per 100ml of blood. In England and Wales, the limit remains at 80mg.

Lucy Amos, spokeswoman for road safety charity Brake, said: "Any amount of alcohol, even amounts below our current drink-drive limit, increases the likelihood of a driver being involved in a fatal crash.

"We need effective enforcement and appropriate penalties to ensure that people have the expectation that they will be caught and that they will be punished when driving over the limit."

The DfT figures also revealed there hasn't been a significant reduction in traffic accident fatalities since 2011, with 1,730 people being killed on UK roads last year.

While this figure represents a year-on-year decrease of 45 fatalities, the DfT said the change was probably due to "natural variation".

DfT has said it is working with safety groups on "common sense proposals" that will aim to provide a balance between tougher penalties for dangerous drivers, with advice to help road users stay safe.

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