This year’s Police Federation Conference is running this week between 19th and 21st May and one of the key topics of debate for officers attending is how to stop women drink driving. Women’s drink driving has become a serious issue in country where statistics suggest male drink driving is falling. The session focusing on Women’s Drink Driving took place on 19th May and looked closely at the question ‘why are women continuing to drink and drive?’
New research and statistics collated by Police Forces and the Federation show that although more men than women are caught drink driving the proportion of women being convicted is increasing, whilst male rates are falling. The rate for women being convicted has increased by 17% whilst male rates are down by 24%.
Speaking on behalf of the Police Federation, Victoria Martin highlighted how cuts to the police force haven’t helped their ability to combat this trend and in fact how more people are being killed and injured on the roads is in part due to these cuts. She also highlighted how the Federation are committed to a lower drink drive limit in England and Wales, to mirror those in most other European countries including Scotland.
Rise in Alcohol Consumption in Women
A study carried out by Social Research Associates, corroborated by a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development suggest that there is a significant rise in alcohol consumption amongst middle aged, educated women and the Social Research Associates carried through their research to try and find a reason for this and more specifically whether women were drinking and driving and why.
The study found that the reasons for women drinking were varied and also highlighted confusion around unit consumption and the dangerous levels of alcohol in the blood which should automatically stop people getting in their cars. Women in the study asserted their reasons included everything from believing alcohol effects the metabolism differently for them than men, the fact that they believe the police are less likely to stop them and also confusion over units and volume of alcohol, especially in wine.
The study also found that women aren’t being targeted effectively by anti-drink driving campaigns as the imagery used is male dominated. Terrifyingly, the most telling statistic from the research is that a huge 40% of women admitted to driving after drinking alcohol and many of these women weren’t aware they could have been over the limit. Some women surveyed believed they could legally drive after drinking a pint or more of 5% abv beer and others though more than a glass of 12% abv wine (175ml) was OK before getting behind the wheel. In truth there is a clear and worrying lack of understanding around alcohol consumption and women behind the wheel.
The guideline for the legal drink drive limit for women in England and Wales is three units and though this isn’t an exact science it gives a guideline and gives people the opportunity to police their own drinking and, as many of the leading road safety campaigns suggest, not drinking at all if driving is the most sensible solution.
Throughout their session the Police Federation utilised research and debated what needs to change to stop this trend of dangerous women drivers on the road. The risk of accident and injury when driving even slightly over the drink drive limit is huge and something that nobody should chance.
Photo credit: H.L.I.T.