Drink-Drivers – In the past fifteen years the amount of women who drink and drive has doubled and experts put it down to the habits of middle class drinkers. A large percentage of women drink drivers believe that they are fit to drive even though they are over the legal limit and the AA has warned people of this “growing risk”. We have previously talked about driverless cars being the future but even with one you would need to adhere to drink driving laws. Here, we look at the growing issue of women drink-drivers…
Statistics show that 3,000 people on average are killed or badly injured every year due to a drink-driving accident, and one in six accidents on the road involve a drink-driver. The biggest offenders of drink-driving are 17-29 year old males which is why the government has already been targeting them with anti-drink driving campaigns. Gregory Martin, a researcher from Victoria University, thinks that because of the increase in women drink-drivers the government needs to start targeting them too because they cannot relate to the male campaigns. Martin said: “This could reduce the rates of drink-driving, and reduce the rates of conviction, and ultimately lead to reductions in fatal and injury crashes.” Most drivers who do have a drink before turning on the engine think that they will never get caught, but over half a million breath tests take place each year and an average of 100,000 of these come out positive.
The excuse for most drink-drivers is that they felt physically “okay” to drive but this does not mean you aren’t over the limit. The head of road policy at AA, Paul Watters, said: “It is a common scenario for a woman to be the designated driver after a dinner party and to underestimate the effects of alcohol they’ve consumed. There perhaps needs to be dedicated campaign to highlight the growing risk from female drink-drivers. There are more women drivers than ever before and at the same time women are socialising much more than they did 20 years ago.” He added, “It may well be that females are driving males home when they’ve been out to a dinner party and they are taking the hit.”
In 2013 Henrietta Fearon was blasted in the press after being caught drink driving. The 34 year old who owned a £585,000 home in Fulham had been at a birthday party all afternoon. After drinking Pimms and wine she hopped into her black mini with her four year old son and started driving home. A passer-by spotted her walking out of the pub and stumbling to her car and phoned the police immediately. She was later arrested and told the police “I can’t believe this. I’ve made a big mistake.” The breathalyser read 95mcg of alcohol and the legal limit is 35mcg. Fearon was told by Magistrate Nicola Leach that: “This is a very, very high reading and we are concerned you drove under such circumstances with your son in the car.”
Sixty per cent of women surveyed said that they didn’t know what the limit was for alcohol when driving and thought that they would be able to drink more than the ‘average woman’ before reaching the limit. 31 per cent of the women surveyed thought they would be fine if they drove slowly and carefully, but more worryingly 17 per cent thought they didn’t have any other alternative but to drive mostly due to a ‘family emergency’.
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.”