Growing number of binge drinkers a cause for concern

News story
News story

A GROWING number of Wiganers are binge boozing during the week, causing fears that it could cause the number of drink-drive fatalities to soar.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that just over 30 per cent of people aged over 18 in the North West are binging during the week, making the region the third worst offending area, behind Scotland and the North East.

It is frightening that so many drivers are still willing to place themselves and others at significant risk when the consequences for everyone can be life-changing

Suzannah Robin

Fewer than 20 per cent of adults are tee-total, with the region having the fourth highest number for drinkers.

Latest figures from Greater Manchester Police show that last December, 317 people were arrested for being over the legal limit. A total of 5.2 per cent tested positive, compared to 4.4 per cent in 2013.

Road safety charities are now concerned that this could cause an increase in related deaths on the road.

In Wigan there have been at least five fatalities relating to drink-driving over the last three years.

In 2013, taxi driver Kenneth Grimshaw, 49, and passenger Emma Houghton, 23, died after Dean Farrimond crashed into their vehicle in Leigh town centre.

Farrimond, 35, of Eden Grove, Leigh, was sentenced to eight years in prison after he was twice over the limit and driving on the wrong side of the road.

In 2012, 23-year-old Daniel Birch, of Worthington, who had been drinking, died after crashing into a gatepost in Wigan Road, Coppull. His family have since bravely campaigned against drink-driving saying that if their warnings are successful Daniel’s death wouldn’t have been entirely in vain.

People are now being urged not to drive the morning after a heavy drinking session, as their judgement is still likely to be impaired.

A survey by the road safety charity BRAKE and insurers Direct Line revealed that one in three admitted to driving after drinking, while almost one in five admitted to driving the morning after a drinking session, when they could still be over the legal limit.

Suzannah Robin, sales and training director of AlcoDigital, who supplies drink and drug-testing equipment, which is available to the public, said: “The figures show that there’s still some way to go in drivers’ understanding of the effects of alcohol, especially the morning after.

“No one can accurately predict the rate at which their body will process alcohol and leaving it to chance (especially the morning after), is unwise.

“It is frightening that so many drivers are still willing to place themselves and others at significant risk when the consequences for everyone can be life-changing. It’s also concerning that a large proportion of the public believe that following common ‘hangover cures’ will mean they are safe to drive when this is not the case.”

Philip Goose, senior community engagement officer at Brake, the road safety charity, said: “Five people die on our roads, every day in the UK. Brake is calling for more funding for specialist traffic police and tougher charges and penalties for illegal driving to deter, catch and punish individuals putting themselves and others at risk on the roads.

“However we can all be part of the solution, by pledging never to drink a drop before driving, driving at appropriate speeds and going at 20 in urban areas.”