Drink-drive deaths hit 12-year high27 Jul 2023

Two hundred and eighty fatalities in 2021

Fatalities from drink-drive crashes on Britain’s roads are at the highest level for more than a decade, government data shows.

The Department for Transport (DfT) estimate that 260 people were killed in collisions involving a driver over the alcohol limit in 2021.

That is up from 220 during the previous 12 months, and is the highest annual total since 2009, when there were 380 fatalities.

A further 1,610 people were seriously injured in drink-drive crashes in 2021.

Steve Gooding, director of the RAC Foundation, said:

“It is frightening to see that some people still think it is OK to drink and drive, given the very clear risks they pose to other road users and to themselves as these numbers clearly show. It is depressing that, if anything, the trend over the last ten years has been going the wrong way. Breath test data shows that 3% of drivers tested after a collision in 2011 were over the limit, in 2020 and 2021 it had risen to 6%.

“Is drink driving socially unacceptable? Judging from these numbers it isn’t as unacceptable as it should be, yet we know peer pressure can be very effective.

“Perhaps the only way to bang home the message that drinking and driving must not mix would be to dispel the notion that a modest sip of alcohol is OK by further reducing our blood alcohol limit, as many other countries have already done.”

The drink-drive limit in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

Nowhere else in Europe has a limit above 50mg/100ml.

The Scottish Government reduced its limit to that level in 2014.



Philip Gomm – Head of External Communications – RAC Foundation

[email protected] | 07711 776448

Notes to editors:

The RAC Foundation is a transport policy and research organisation that explores the economic, mobility, safety and environmental issues relating to roads and their users.

The Foundation publishes independent and authoritative research with which it promotes informed debate and advocates policy in the interest of the responsible motorist. All the Foundation’s work is available at: www.racfoundation.org