Wigan is hotspot for drink driving, shock figures show

Police linked one in nine crashes in the borough to alcohol impairment last year.

Monday, 19th October 2020, 2:45 pm
Updated Monday, 19th October 2020, 2:48 pm
A motorist being given a breath test by a police officer

That means alcohol was linked to 11% of a total of 170 incidents which had contributory factors in 2019 – among the highest proportions in Great Britain – while impairment through drugs was reported in 2%.​

Road safety charity Brake called the persistence of dangerous behaviour on the roads “deeply concerning” as it renewed calls for a zero-tolerance stance on drink and drug driving nationally.

Department for Transport data shows drivers or riders impaired by alcohol contributed to 18 crashes in Wigan last year.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

The figures, which report contributory factors for incidents as recorded by police, also show four people affected by illicit or medicinal drugs.

Officers can record one or more causes for any vehicle incident where someone suffers even a slight injury. These do not have to involve cars and may include a cyclist falling over or a motorbike colliding with a pedestrian.

A driver or rider could be marked as being impaired by alcohol or drugs if police believe their behaviour directly caused or contributed to the accident, whether over the legal limit or not.

The Scottish Government reduced the alcohol limit for drivers from 80 milligrammes (mg) per 100 millilitres of blood to 50mg in December 2014, but the legal level in the rest of the UK remains 80mg.

Joshua Harris, Brake’s director of campaigns, said the presence of drink and drug driving on the roads is concerning but “all too predictable”.

“We know that any amount of alcohol impairs driving, and yet the Government persists with the highest drink-drive limit in Europe in England, Wales and Northern Ireland,” he said.

“We urge the Government to introduce an effective zero tolerance drink-drive limit, providing much-needed clarity to all drivers that if you drink, you must not drive.”

Transport committee MPs announced this month that they are considering a no-alcohol limit for new drivers under the age of 25 in a bid to curb the number of casualties on the roads each year.

The most common contributory factor in Wigan was drivers and riders not looking properly, listed in 35% of incidents, followed by being careless, reckless or in a hurry (21%) and failing to judge the other person’s path or speed (16%).

Different figures show 15 people were killed and 120 seriously injured on the area’s roads last year.

This was higher than in 2018, when police recorded six deaths and 99 serious injuries.

Total casualties, which include slight injuries, rose from 380 to 409 over the period.

Mr Harris said the “decimation” of roads policing over the past decade has left the UK unable to reduce its high levels of dangerous driving.

“We welcome the Government’s Roads Policing Review, which will help coordinate roads policy and enforcement and urge the Government to ensure that the police are provided the investment they need to enforce the rules of the road effectively,” he added.

Transport Minister Baroness Vere said statistics show road casualties are the lowest they’ve been for 40 years, and that the number of deaths has also reduced.

She added: “While this news is encouraging and while we have some of the safest roads in the world, this Government will continue to work tirelessly to ensure our roads are made even safer still.”