The number of road casualties in Great Britain fell by 5% in the year to September 2017, including a drop in the number of fatalities, while casualties from drink-drive collisions reached their highest total since 2012.
However, officials warned that the 4% decrease in the number of fatalities, from 1,800 in the year ending September 2016 to 1,720, was not statistically significant, meaning that it could be explained by natural variation.
There were 174,510 casualties of all severities, down 5% on the previous year. Officials said this drop was statistically significant, indicating that a number of factors have combined to improve some aspects of safety on Britain’s roads.
A total of 27,010 people were killed or seriously injured during the period. Officials said that changes to this figure should be treated with caution due to changes in the reporting system used by police.
Traffic levels rose by 1%, meaning that the overall casualty rate per mile decreased by 5%.
Provisional estimates for 2016 show that between 200 and 280 people were killed in accidents in Great Britain where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit, with a central estimate of 240 deaths.
This is higher than in 2015 and officials said the provisional rise is statistically significant, although the 2016 estimate is very similar to the level during the years 2010 to 2014.
An estimated 9,050 people were killed or injured when at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit. This represents a statistically significant rise from 8,470 in 2015, and is the highest number since 2012.
The total number of collisions and accidents where at least one driver was over the alcohol limit rose by 6% to 6,080 in 2016 and is statistically significant.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams called the drink-drive statistics ‘disturbing’ and called on the Government to ‘make it crystal clear to drink-drive offenders that enough is enough’, as well as giving police the resources needed to enforce the law.
He said: ‘We are under no illusion about the scale of the challenge when it comes to ending the menace of drink-drivers on the UK’s roads – not least in addressing the problem of persistent offenders. For these hard core offenders, drink-driving it is likely to be a symptom of other problems in their lives which are neither simple or cheap to fix.’