Drink-driving, middle class women – an increasing danger on the roads?

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18 September 2014

Are we seeing an increasing disregard for safety – and an increase in the flouting of the drink-driving laws, because of ‘middle class drinking habits’?

That is the suggestion made from a new piece of research by car insurance company Direct Line – particularly when it comes to women drivers.

The survey says that whilst women accounted for just 9% of drink-drive convictions in 1998, it had risen to 17% in 2012. In 2013, 803 women failed a breathalyser test after an accident.

Furthermore, 17% of women said they believed they had driven while over the legal limit during the past year, with the most common reason for doing being that they felt physically “okay” to drive.

Paul Watters, head of road policy at the AA, was quoted by the Daily Telegraph as saying it was a “common” scenario for a woman to be designated the driver after a dinner party and to underestimate the effects of alcohol they’ve consumed.

“There perhaps needs to be dedicated campaign to highlight the growing risk from female drink-drivers,” he said.

“There are more women drivers than ever before and at the same time women are socialising much more than they did 20 years ago.

“It may well be that females are driving males home when they’ve been out to a dinner party and they are taking the hit.”

Figures show the number of deaths in drink-drive related accidents are not falling as car accident claims are on the rise.

They rose by 26 per cent in 2012, with a total of 290 people killed compared with 230 in 2011, according to the Department for Transport. One in six of all deaths on the roads is related to an incident with a driver over the limit.

The AA has now warned of the “growing risk” from female drink-drivers who believe they are fit to drive despite being over the legal alcohol limit – citing drinking habits that see mothers having a glass of wine at lunchtime before going on the school run, or couples drinking a bottle of wine with their evening meal before driving to work the next day.

As many as 60% of the women polled in the survey, said they did not know the legal limit and in almost all cases, respondents felt they were personally able to drink more alcohol than the “average woman” before they were over the legal limit.

Almost a third (31%) thought it would be fine if they just drove carefully, while 17% felt they had no alternative other than to drink and drive, often due to “family emergencies” an issue which often comes to the fore with personal injury solicitors.

Some 59% said they did so because they felt “okay” to drive.


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