Call to cut booze limit as drink-drive deaths soar

The scene of a road traffic incident at Ashdale, Mount Pleasant, Washington.
The scene of a road traffic incident at Ashdale, Mount Pleasant, Washington.
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THE number of deaths in drink-drive accidents soared last year, according to provisional Government figures out today.

Last year, 290 people were killed in drink-drive accidents in Britain – around 25 per cent more than the figure of 230 in 2011, according to the Department for Transport (DfT).

The 2012 figures were made worse by the fact that the 2011 total was the lowest since records began in 1979.

There were 250 drink-drive accidents which resulted in deaths last year, compared with 220 in 2011.

Overall, the number of accidents involving drink-driving last year totalled 6,680 – fractionally down on the 2011 figure of 6,690.

Young driver Jay McCormick, from Harraton in Washington, had taken drink and drugs before he was killed in a smash which also claimed the life of another man.

The 19-year-old died when the Suzuki Swift he was driving hit a lamppost and ploughed into three cars parked on the driveway of a house in Washington.

Mr McCormick, who moved to the North East from Scotland with mum Deborah, dad Henry and sister Lauren 17 years earlier, suffered massive head injuries in the crash last September.

Passenger Jonathan Cruddas-Ginks, of Kimberley, Washington, was taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary but died five days later.

An inquest held in Sunderland in May heard that Mr McCormick was under the influence of alcohol and drugs at the time of the smash, which would have had an effect on his driving skills.

News of the death toll has led to road experts calling for the drink-drive limit to be lowered.

Kevin Clinton, head of road safety for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, said: “The increase in drink-drive deaths in 2012 is very disturbing. The figures show that the problem of drinking and driving has not been solved, with tens of thousands of people being convicted of drink-driving, hundreds losing their lives and thousands being injured every year.”

He added: “A lower drink-drive limit would save many lives each year, while effective enforcement of the drink-drive law is essential.”

Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said: “Road deaths are, thankfully, at their lowest since records began in 1926, and the number of drink-drive related deaths has declined overall with 25 per cent fewer deaths in 2012 than in 2009.

“These latest figures are provisional, but any road death is one too many, and we are absolutely not complacent when it comes to road safety.

“That is why we are taking forward a package of measures to streamline enforcement against drink-driving, including approving portable evidential breath-testing equipment which will allow for more effective and efficient enforcement.”