Stopping Distances - RoSPA's Pedestrian Injury Simulator

Facts : Drink-driving

Click here for the facts about speed. Click here for the facts about mobile phone use. Click here for the facts about drink driving. Click here for the facts about wet weather.



Driving after drinking alcohol is dangerous. It can give drivers a false sense of confidence but will also impair them in many ways by affecting the central nervous system.

The impairment effects of drinking alcohol are that

it will slow a drivers reaction times,

it reduces a drivers co-ordination,

a driver will lose their ability to judge speed, time, and distance, and

the concentration on driving will be reduced.

All of these effects will greatly reduce a drivers safety and put them and others in serious danger.

The Law

It is illegal to drive a motor vehicle on a public road with more than either:

35 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath, or

80 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood.

In realistic terms, it is impossible to judge whether you are above or below the limit, and so the best advice will always be to have none for the road.

The Police can breath test any driver who if to test any driver who:

they have reasonable cause to suspect has been driving or attempting to drive with alcohol in his body,

has committed a moving traffic offence, or

has been involved in an accident.

Facts and Statistics about Drink Driving

Sadly, around one person in every six people killed on the roads, still dies in an accident where at least one driver or rider was above the drink drive limit. It is not always the driver themselves, drink-driving puts everyone at risk.


The general trend over the last 20 years was that between 500 and 600 people were killed annually in drink-driving accidents. Since 2007 the number of deaths caused by alcohol has reduced significantly. This coincides with relatively large reductions in the total number of people killed on the roads in GB, which fell from 2,946 in 2007, to 1,850 in 2010.

These fatality figures will also include a number of fatalities caused the morning after a driver has had alcohol. It takes time for alcohol to work through the system, and it can still cause impairment the morning after, even if you do not realise it's effects.

Other Impairments

Whilst drink driving is the most recognised form of driver impairment, driving after taking illegal drugs is also just as dangerous. It is clearly not safe to drive after taking drugs, as they will effect a drivers behaviour, perception, and ability to control a vehicle safely.

Some medicines will also impair a driver and you should always read the warning labels. If a medicine which you have bought says 'may cause drowsiness', then you should assume that it does.

The Simulator and Drink Driving

Alcohol will increase the time it takes drivers to process information – which effectively increases thinking and stopping distances. A drunk driver who spots a pedestrian would take extra vital moments before applying the brake.

This is shown by a large increase in the thinking distance, in the real world a drunk driver may also not press the brake as hard as a sober driver, but this has not been factored into the simulator.

Of course, the extra time it takes a driver to press the brake, will mean that the vehicle is travelling at a faster speed when it hits the pedestrian, causing a more severe injury.

Figures taken from ‘Reported Road Casualties 2010, published by the Department for Transport’

| Accessibility | Copyright & Disclaimer ©RoSPA | Contact Us |

Produced with the support of the Department for Transport.
Produced with the support of the Department for Transport.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents Return to the Stopping Distances Home Page