Worrying new figures show that millions of women across the UK regularly consume alcohol and take to the roads.
The results of the in-depth study found that one in six (17 per cent) of female motorists thought they might have driven whilst over the legal limit in the past year. The report also highlights the growing proportion of all drink driving convictions received by women, which has risen from nine per cent in 1998 to 17 per cent in 2012.
The study from Direct Line Car Insurance and Rees Jeffreys Road Fund reveals a concerning lack of awareness amongst women drivers about the amount of alcohol that can legally be consumed before taking to the road. Overall, over half said they did not know the legal limit and apart from those who did not drink and drive, other respondents felt that they were personally able to drink more alcohol than the ‘average woman’ could before they themselves were over the legal limit. For example, it was felt that four per cent of ‘average women’ could drink two glasses of wine and be fine to drive but 12 per cent thought they themselves would be OK.
Amongst the women who admitted to drink driving, the most common reason for doing so was because they felt physically ‘OK’ to drive, as cited by 59 per cent. Almost a third thought it would be OK if they just drove carefully. 17 per cent felt they had no alternative other than to drink and drive, often due to ‘family emergencies’ which demonstrates women who drink and drive can be more likely to drink and drive because of their roles as mothers or wives compared to men. A further 14 per cent say they drove whilst over the limit because they thought there was little risk of being caught.
Road safety minister Robert Goodwill said: “Drink driving wrecks lives, and the personal consequences of a drink drive conviction can be devastating. In 2013 803 women failed a breathalyser test after an accident and that is 803 too many. That is why we are cracking down on the minority who drink and drive by introducing a new offence of causing serious injury by dangerous driving and closing loopholes in the law to make it easier for police to prosecute drink-drivers, as well as tackling the menace of those who drive under the influence of illegal drugs.
“Later this year we will launch the next phase of the THINK! campaign on drink driving. So our advice is simple; if you are driving have none for the road, as one drink can put you over the limit.”
None for the road – If you’re driving, it’s better to have none for the road. Just one drink can put you over the limit
- There are strict legal alcohol limits for UK drivers however it is not possible to say how much alcohol you can drink and stay below the limit
- The way alcohol affects you depends on your weight, age and sex, as well as the type and amount of alcohol you’re drinking and what you’ve eaten recently
- Many people think that it’s ok to drink a pint of beer or a glass of wine and legally drive. However a pint of 4% beer is 2.3 units and a standard (175cc) glass of 13% wine is 4.6 units of alcohol which could place some women at risk of being over the limit
- Women metabolise alcohol differently to men and in general, their bodies don’t process alcohol as efficiently as men’s. So, when drinking equal amounts, women will have higher alcohol levels in their blood than men, and the immediate effects happen quicker and last longer.
THINK! ahead – if you're planning to drink alcohol, plan how to get home without driving.
- Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive and increases the risk of collision
- Safe options include agreeing on a designated driver, saving a taxi number to your phone, or finding out about public transport routes and times before you go out
Beware the morning after – you could be over the legal limit many hours after your last drink and it takes a lot longer than people think for alcohol to pass though the body (www.morning-after.org.uk)
- You could be over the legal limit many hours after your last drink, even if it’s the ‘morning after.’ Sleep, coffee and cold showers don’t help you to sober up, time is the only way to get alcohol out of your system
Information and advice from THINK! visit: http://think.direct.gov.uk/drink-driving.html