Young people gamble with their lives 17 Jan 2008

Almost one in five young people (18 – 24) got into a car this Christmas believing the driver was over the limit, according to survey data released today (17) by the RAC Foundation.

The online survey of 1000 Facebook users* asked participants to say if they had travelled in a car driven by someone they thought was over the drink-drive limit this Christmas.

  • Seventeen per cent of 18 to 24 year olds said yes.
  • Eight per cent of 25 to 49 year olds said yes.
  • Twelve per cent of 13 to 17 year olds said yes.

The RAC Foundation is calling for targeted advertising aimed at persuading passengers not to get into a car if they have any doubts about the driver’s fitness.

While young adults were most likely to have been driven by a drunk driver, one in eight 13 – 17 year olds had also been put at risk. The RAC Foundation believes that the attitudes of this group of pre-drivers and novice drivers are the key to improving road safety. They must be convinced of the social unacceptability of drink-driving before they get their licences, for their own safety and the safety of others. Parents and older drivers should also take more care to set a good example.

Though men outnumbered women in each age category, younger women were far more likely to have been driven by a drunk-driver than older women – 85% of the women who had got into a car driven by someone over the limit were under 25.

Describing the results as “extremely worrying,” the RAC Foundation is calling for new thinking to get the message across to “Generation Y,” who rely on technology rather than TV for communication. Survey participants were drawn from Facebook’s London network. The Foundation predicts that the situation will be worse in other parts of the UK where there are fewer public transport alternatives at the end of a night out, and plans further research to test this.

Sheila Rainger, Acting Director, said “It is truly shocking that one in five young people is prepared to play Russian roulette by getting into a car with a drunk driver.

“New thinking is needed, targeting passengers as well as drivers, to ensure that drink-driving remains socially unacceptable and to ensure that passengers, especially younger women, have the confidence to turn down what could be their last lift.”

The RAC Foundation’s three-point plan to tackle drink-driving is:-

  • More traffic police to target drink and drug drivers, and provide a deterrent. The lack of visible enforcement adds to the perception that people can simply get away with drink-driving.
  • A combination of targeted and random breath testing, to provide both a high profile disincentive and a rapid response to the most dangerous motoring offenders.
  • An extension of penal sanctions available to the courts to ensure that drink drive offenders are able to receive a combination of punishment, education and advice to reduce the likelihood of repeat offending once they are allowed back on the road.


* The survey was carried out on January 8 2008, using Facebook Polls. Participation was restricted to members of the London network.


Q. This Christmas did you travel in a car driven by someone you thought was over the drink drive limit?

All responses

Yes - 13%
No – 87%

Yes / Male - 17%
Yes / Female - 9%

Yes / 13-17 - 12%
Yes / 18-24 - 17%
Yes / 25-34 - 8%
Yes / 35 - 49 - 8%

Further breakdowns by gender and age are available on request.


Total responses: 1000

Reponses by Gender:
Male - 510
Female - 489

Responses by Age:
13-17 - 308
18-24 - 424
25-34 - 206
35 - 49 - 53