Road accidents remain a perennial problem worldwide. Annually, 1.3 million fatalities occur in the world’s thoroughfares with up to 50 million motorists incurring minor and serious injuries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
While there are a few reasons why road accidents happen, one of the major causes for vehicle mishaps is driving under the influence (DUI), which covers both alcohol and drug use.
As with the majority of the countries in the world, operating a motor vehicle while being under these impairing substances is highly prohibited in the United Kingdom (UK). Doing such can lead to jail time, license revocation, and a criminal record, not to mention hefty penalty fees and settlement costs.
Find out some important DUI and road safety facts in the UK and some interesting figures about road accidents around the world.
What UK Law Says About DUI
Whether a minor fender-bender or a major collision, all motorists involved are exposed to physical risks. If you want to know the major problems you might face in a car accident and what to do if you’re involved in such a mishap, check this article for additional information.
As with the majority of the countries in the world, the UK has specific laws to maintain road safety and minimize accidents on the streets. For instance, there are nationally and locally set speed limits in specific zones. Legislations also compel motorists to use protective gear such as helmets, seat belts, and other items to reduce the risk of road fatalities.
But more importantly, driving under the influence is against the law in the UK, which includes Scotland, England, and Wales. In these places, policemen can stop you for sobriety checks and on the suspicion of a motorist driving under the influence. They’re authorized to do a breath alcohol test and other types of evaluations to ensure you’re not being a threat to yourself and other pedestrians by driving while using drugs and alcohol.
The national law states a driver shouldn't have a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08% grams per decilitre (g/dl) or 8 milligrams per 100 millilitres. This figure is slightly higher than the WHO-recommended BAC of 0.05% g/dl.
The UK and the rest of the European nations have established BAC restrictions in line with the suggested figures. Countries such as Portugal, Spain, Norway, Greece, Germany, France, and Denmark have all 0.05% g/dl BAC limitations. In some regions, though, there's an absence of BAC restrictions or more relaxed limits higher than 0.05% g/dl, the international health agency noted.
Moreover, local laws in England and Wales have the following BAC limitations based on the different biological samples for different tests:
- Alcohol content in breath: 35 micrograms per 100 millilitres
- Alcohol content in blood: 80 milligrams per 100 millilitres
- Alcohol content in urine: 107 milligrams per 100 millilitres
Punishments and Penalties
The UK has strict laws on DUI, including refusal to undergo blood alcohol testing. Minor offenses could get you jailed for three to six months of imprisonment, a GBP£2,500 penalty, and a potential ban from driving a vehicle, as decided by the magistrates. The court typically imposes appropriate penalties based on the alcohol level found in a driver accused of DUI.
If the accident you’ve caused resulted in death, you may be facing 14-year imprisonment, unlimited fines, and a two-year driving ban. These penalties don't include the other problems set off by DUI such as social stigma, mental issues, and physical injuries. Expect to have costly vehicle accident settlements and a spike in your vehicle insurance rates, too.
DUI Figures: UK and the World
In the WHO-led Global Status Report on Road Safety reported last 2015, the United Kingdom is the 7th country with the highest incidence of alcohol-induced road deaths. According to the survey, 16% of the total number of road fatalities in the UK were caused by drunk driving. Comparatively, South Africa had a whopping 58% road fatalities due to the same condition, the highest among all the countries monitored. Canada (34%) and the United States (31%) were in the second and third places, respectively. Australia, France, and Italy complete the top six, or the countries with higher rates versus the UK.
The UK Department for Transport 2018 statistics show there's a total of 5,200 road accidents, mostly slight collisions (4,120). Additionally, there were 14 drunk-driving accidents per 100,000 license holders across all ages. Unfortunately, there were no available figures for DUI-related deaths focused on the use of drugs and other substances.
Global Road Crash Data
About 91% of the world’s road fatalities happen in low to middle-income nations. These countries also cater almost half of the world’s vehicles. Motorist deaths are highest in countries such as China, India, Nigeria, the United States, and Pakistan, WHO reported.
There’s an ongoing debate on whether strict DUI laws directly impact road safety, particularly in reducing road fatalities caused by drunk driving and substance abuse. Be as it may, the key to road safety is the stringent implementation of rules and regulations as well as a self-imposed discipline among all motorists.
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