01/08/2013 06:53 BST | Updated 01/10/2013 06:12 BST

Drink-Drive Deaths Rise By 25%

A motorist stopped by police taking a breath test

The number of deaths in drink-drive accidents soared last year, according to provisional Government figures.

An estimated 290 people were killed in drink-drive accidents in Britain in 2012 - around 25% more than the figure of 230 in 2011, the Department for Transport (DfT) said today.

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

The 2012 figures showed that the 290 deaths represented 17% of all reported road fatalities.

There were 250 drink-drive accidents which resulted in deaths in 2012, 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.

The DfT figures also showed that those seriously injured in drink-drive accidents totalled 1,210 in 2012 - down from the total of 1,270 in 2011.

Slight injuries in drink-drive accidents totalled 8,500 last year - slightly up on the 8,420 figure in 2011.

Among those killed in drink-drive accidents, the majority (68%) were drivers and riders over the legal alcohol limit. The remaining 32% were other road users, involved in the accident but not necessarily over the legal limit themselves.

Although the death toll from last year rose significantly, the annual fatality figure has come down considerably since the late 1970s and 1980s when figures of more than 1,400 deaths a year were recorded.

The annual death figure hovered around the 530 to 580 mark in the first years of the 21st century before dipping sharply over the period 2007 to 2011.

The DfT pointed out that despite the big increase in deaths in 2012, the number of drink-drive fatalities was still around 25% lower than in 2009 and almost 40% lower than the 2005 to 2009 average.

The number of seriously injured drink-drive casualties for 2012 was around 30% lower than for the 2005-09 average.

The department also published today provisional road casualty figures for all types of accidents in the first three months of 2013 - a period including the coldest March for 50 years.

The DfT statistics showed that 340 people were killed in reported road accidents in Britain in the period January-March 2013 - a drop of 18% on the same period in 2012.

Serious injuries in the first three months of this year were down 19%, with slight injuries decreasing 14%. Motorcyclist, pedal cyclist and pedestrian deaths and serious injuries fell sharply.

The DfT said that it was likely that the cold weather contributed to the dip in casualties.

The January to March 2013 figures, albeit provisional, took the total number of deaths in the 12 months ending March 2013 to 1,680 - a 10% drop on the 1,870 figure for the 12 months ending March 2012.

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% 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."

Commenting on the road death figures for the first part of this year, Institute of Advanced Motorists director of policy and research Neil Greig said: "It would seem to be good news with continued sustained falls in car occupant casualties and falls in all vulnerable categories for example pedestrians, bikers and cyclists."

"It is clear that the continued economic downturn (with falling traffic levels) and poor weather are the main causes. The economy is showing signs of improvement and we are having a fantastic summer so we cannot be complacent."