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Wednesday, 9 January, 2002, 12:47 GMT
Who are the drink drivers?
Positive breath test results were worst in five years
Officers say independent research is needed
Police officers say more research is needed to target the anti-drink drive message at the worst offenders.

Motoring groups have suggested the alarming rise in Christmas drink-driving may be due to younger motorists not heeding the dangers of mixing alcohol and cars.

Our figures are only based on breath tests after collisions so they only provide a snapshot

Insp Tim Madgwick
North Yorkshire Police
RAC executive director Edmund King said: "Judging by the number of positive breath tests the assumption that drinking and driving has been made socially unacceptable seems to no longer hold water."

But Inspector Tim Madgwick, of North Yorkshire Police, said anecdotal evidence from his force, indicated that drink-driving was more of an issue for the 40-plus age group and persistent offenders.

He called for independent research into examining the profile of drink-drivers.

Mr Madgwick said an independent study would produce more "honest responses."

"If we want to target our response more effectively we need the hard intelligence," he said.

"Figures we produce each year are based on police activity, not driver activity.

"There are 20 million drivers on the road. Our figures are only based on breath tests after collisions so they only provide a snapshot."

'Women drink-driving'

Mr Madgwick said there was some signs that more women were now drink-driving than in the past.

"If anything young people are more receptive to the anti-drink-drive message," Mr Madgwick said.

"They have grown up with this in schools and in the media."

Supt David Finnimore, head of the Metropolitan Police's traffic unit, also said he had seen no concrete evidence to support the idea that young people were the worst offenders.

"It is my view that young people today are socially responsible and are very aware of the anti-drink-drive message."

It is now time to reassess the education and publicity campaigns on drink-driving

Edmund King
He said his experience was that it tended to be more of an issue with 30 plus drivers.

But the RAC argued younger drivers had not paid attention to the road safety campaigns.

"This applies particularly among the very group who were thought to be most convinced of the evils of drink-driving - young motorists.

"If more lives are to be saved on our roads, perhaps it is now time to reassess the education and publicity campaigns on drink-driving to ensure that the message successfully reaches all motorists."

Out of more than 15,000 drivers breath-tested after accidents 8% were over the limit - an increase of almost 1% on the last festive season.

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