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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2005, 16:27 GMT 17:27 UK
Drink-drive related deaths rise
A breathalyser
The total number of drink-drive related casualties has fallen
The number of drink-driving related deaths increased last year, government figures have revealed.

There were 590 alcohol-related road deaths in 2004, up from 580 in 2003, the Department for Transport announced.

The department reacted by saying it was "extremely concerned about the increase in drink-drive deaths".

But total casualties - which include injuries as well as deaths - where drinking was involved fell from 18,990 in 2003 to around 17,000 last year.

The drink-drive figures were part of newly-published figures relating to overall road casualty figures for 2004.

We are committed to taking appropriate action against those people who endanger not only themselves but other road users by drink- driving
DfT spokesman

The figures revealed that 3,221 people - whether drivers, passengers or pedestrians - were killed on Britain's roads in 2004 - 8% fewer than the previous year.

Meanwhile, the number of seriously injured people fell to 31,130, which also marked an 8% fall compared to 2003.

The number of pedestrian casualties fell by 4% between 2003 and 2004, while the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured was down 6%.

The figures suggested that around 12% of all road accident casualties and 21% of those who died in road accidents were pedestrians.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said it was "shocked" by the findings.

Kevin Clinton, who heads the body, said: "We cannot understand why the government continues to oppose a reduction in the drink-drive limit when the evidence shows it would save lives.

Road Safety Bill

"We are shocked by yet another increase in the number of deaths even though there has been a fall in the number of casualties in drink-drive accidents.

"We fear the situation will continue to get worse unless something is done."

Mr Clinton went on: "Far too many motorists think they can drink and drive without getting caught.

"We still believe the Road Safety Bill could be used to introduce a reduced limit."

But the DfT felt the figures indicated some positive trends.

A spokesman said: "We are pleased with the overall fall in road casualties but we remain extremely concerned about the increase in drink-drive deaths."

Responsibility

He praised the UK for having "one of the best road safety records in the world", before outlining the reason for successes in recent years.

He said: "The key to our success over the last three decades has been publicity and enforcement and we will continue to refine and target these measures to make sure they are as effective as possible."

"Ultimately, we all have a responsibility to drive safely and sensibly on our roads.

"We are committed to taking appropriate action against those people who endanger not only themselves but other road users by drink driving."


SEE ALSO
Record 35% rise in drink drivers
15 Sep 05 |  Cumbria
Young drivers targeted by police
11 Aug 05 |  Hampshire

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