Scottish drink-drive casualties report show lowest numbers ever

THE NUMBER of drink-drive casualties on Scotland’s roads in 2021 was the lowest ever recorded, shows a report from Transport Scotland.  

Published on 25 October, the report shows a total of 210 people were injured in accidents where a driver was over the legal limit, which compares with 1,270 in 2002.

There were 10 deaths, which is half the number the year before and down from 50 two decades ago.

Graph showing areas of Scotland with highest drunk-driving offences.
There were fewer casualties in Scotland than any other region in Britain.

The Scottish figures are in sharp contrast to the rest of Great Britain where drink-drive deaths have hit a 12 year high of 260. 

In Wales, despite its much smaller population, there were 320 injuries – 50% more than Scotland.

There were 660 casualties in London, plus a further 1,210 in the South East of England.

“The message is finally getting through that alcohol increases the likelihood of an accident”, comments Hunter Abbott, managing director of personal breathalyser firm AlcoSense.

“Our research shows that over half of motorists in Scotland have now reduced the amount of alcohol they drink, when they will be driving later that day or the following morning.

“The lower drink-drive limit in Scotland has undoubtedly helped to change attitudes and, based on these figures, the rest of the UK should follow suit”. 

Separate crime figures released on the 24th of October 2023 showed the number of convictions for driving ‘under the influence’ (DUI) in 2021-22 was 3,555.

“Whilst this appears to be a sharp rise on the year before, 2020-21 was severely impacted by the Covid pandemic with courts closed for much of this period”, explains Hunter Abbott. 

“The longer-term trend is that DUI convictions are down by a third over the past decade – there were 5,287 in 2011-12”. 

The highest proportion of breath tests by Police was in Tayside where 72% of motorists were breathalysed after an injury accident.  

But in Glasgow it was only 38% – despite the City being the drink and drug drive hotspot of Scotland. 

Analysis of crime data by AlcoSense shows there were 942 DUI offences in Glasgow in 2022-23, higher than anywhere else in the country and up by a third over the past decade.

Next worst were North Lanarkshire (820 DUI offences), Aberdeen & Aberdeenshire (650), Highland (574) and the City of Edinburgh (499). 

Bottom of the table are the Islands of Orkney (23) and Shetland (28). 

The biggest breath test failure rate was in Renfrewshire & Inverclyde where 8.8% of drivers tested positive after an accident, double the rate of the previous year.  Whereas in Forth Valley just 1% of motorists failed the test.

The overall failure rate across Scotland was 3.8%, considerably lower than in England & Wales (6%). 

The Scottish drink-drive limit was lowered in December 2014 from 80mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood (0.80‰ BAC) to 50mg (0.50‰ BAC).

Even at 0.10‰ BAC (one fifth of the Scottish limit) you are still 37% more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, research shows.


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