1 in 5 Drink-Drivers Now Over 50

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Here at Swiftcover we've been doing some research into drink driving statistics, uncovering some worrying results. Although overall drink driving rates have fallen by 15% since 2010, the number of over-50s caught drunk behind the wheel has stayed the same - and there has even been a 20% rise in octogenarians under the influence on Britain's roads.

Why our most experienced motorists account for such a large proportion of drink-drivers remains a mystery. Some may point to the recession cutting into the income of the young, though it could also be a question of generation and outlook.

Most over-75s will have started driving in the 1950s, when a legal limit for alcohol consumption didn't exist - this came into force in 1967. Many over-50s will have been learners in the late 1970s when drink driving offences were more than five times as common as today.

An increase in drink-driving in older people is of particular concern, considering that the 'safe alcohol limits' which apply to the young do not apply to the aged, due to the physiological and metabolic effects of getting older. A Royal College of Physiologists report, published in 2011, indicates that even a 'modest' amount of alcohol can carry significant risks for older people - and recommends a maximum of 1.5 units of alcohol (equivalent to half a pint of beer, or one glass of sherry) per day.

The statistics also showed considerable regional variation. In 2012, over-50s accounted for 15% of drink drivers across the UK. However, in Lancashire that leaps to a staggering 54%, and in London it dips to just 2%. Areas with the largest number of drink-driving over-75s were found further South, specifically in Hampshire (46 convictions) and the Thames Valley (30).

Regardless of age, road users should always remember the dangers of drink driving. Roman Bryl, Underwriting Manager at swiftcover.com, commented:

“Drink driving is not acceptable at any age. Although great strides have been made to tackle this in younger people, the number of motorists drink driving from the older generations is still worryingly high.

“Reducing the number of people caught up in drink driving accidents is a priority – safety is paramount, but people should also be aware of the legal and financial repercussions for offenders. Not only does this reckless behaviour endanger lives, it can also have an impact on your car insurance.”

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