December is only the second-worst month for drink-drive-related crashes despite the festive period, according to analysis of government data. Road safety charity Brake said the figures showed drink-driving is a “year-round” problem, but still called on drivers to be responsible as Christmas approaches.

Brake’s analysis of official data showed there were almost 47,000 drink-driving-related crashes between 2012 and 2019, resulting in 1,860 deaths and more than 13,000 serious injuries. August saw the highest number of drink-driving crashes, averaging 4,170 a year. Perhaps it’s no surprise that month was also the most dangerous for drink-drive crashes, with an average of 6,260 people killed or seriously injured every August.

In comparison, December was the second-worst month for drink-driving-related crashes, with an average of 4,150 a year. But it was just the fourth worst in terms of deaths and serious injuries, averaging 6,020 every year.

Group of friends enjoying Christmas drinks in pub

Despite that, Brake says December is still a “peak” month for drink-driving, and it has called on drivers not to drink any alcohol before getting behind the wheel. The organisation says driving is one of the most dangerous activities most UK adults will do, and any amount of alcohol affects driving ability. That, the charity claims, means “a zero-tolerance limit must be implemented to protect road users”.

At present, the English and Welsh drink-drive limit of 80 mg of alcohol per 100 ml of blood is the highest in Europe, while Scotland’s lower limit of 50 mg per 100 ml of blood is in line with other countries on the continent. Although Brake admits the “reduction of the alcohol limit in Scotland has not been proven as yet to help lower the number of road crashes caused by drink-driving”, it supports an even lower limit that will “effectively ban any level of drink-driving” but would allow leeway for “accidental exposure”, such as the use of mouthwash.

“Thousands of people are being needlessly killed and injured at the hands of drink-drivers every month,” said Brake’s head of campaigns, Jason Wakeford. “We need to change the culture around drink-driving, starting with more awareness that any amount can be deadly.

“While measures such as effective ongoing police enforcement and public information campaigns, including Think!, are helping to reduce deaths and injuries, the government should follow Scotland’s lead and reduce the legal limit, as per the call from the Safe Roads For All Alliance. Such a move would make it clear to drivers that no amount of alcohol is safe when behind the wheel.”

Man drinking wine and holding car keys