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744,000 drivers say they will be over the limit when they drive this Christmas

2nd December 2015

  • 31% of those planning to drink drive still believe ‘it won’t harm anyone’
  • The Co-operative Insurance is urging drivers to get a taxi or agree a ‘designated driver’

A huge 744,000* drivers think that they will be over the legal alcohol limit when they get behind the wheel this festive season according to shocking research by The Co-operative Insurance.

Of the 2,000 drivers questioned, 10% said that they would be having at least one alcoholic drink per night out over the festive period with nearly a fifth (18%) admitting to thinking that they would be over the legal drink drive limit when they take to the roads.

Despite years of widespread anti drink driving campaigning, the main reason these people are planning to do this is because they believe ‘that it won’t harm anyone’ (31%). A fifth (20%) admit to drink driving being something that they have done before. Nearly half (49%) of drivers who are having at least one drink will be carrying passengers, and are most likely to have their partners and children in the car.

The top ten list of excuses from those planning to drink drive are as follows:

Top 10 drink driving excuses – from those who plan to get behind the wheel
 Rank Reason   
% who use this rationale
 1  It won’t harm anyone  31%
 2  A taxi is too expensive  28%
 3  I don’t want to walk home  25%
 4  I’ve done it before  20%
 5  The roads will be quiet when I drive  18%
 6  Alcohol doesn’t affect me  18%
 7  I can handle my drink  13%
 8  Alcohol doesn’t affect my driving  10%
 9  Because I know other people who do this (drink and drive)  7%
10 I don’t want to rely on anyone else 7%

Drivers who plan to drink drive seem to be in denial about the consequences of their actions on the public and themselves if they are caught. According to the DVLA, those caught driving or attempting to drive whilst over the legal limit or unfit through drink can receive: 6 months’ imprisonment, an unlimited fine, a driving ban for at least 1 year (3 years if convicted twice in 10 years). 

Despite this, 80% of those who believe they will be over the drink drive limit when they drive, rely on their car for work – either to get to/from or actually use for work purposes.

The findings have also revealed that driver’s attitudes about driving the day after a heavy night out isn’t much better. Nearly half (48%) of drivers don’t believe that they would be under legal alcohol limits to drive after a festive night out. Shockingly, however, over a quarter (26%) are driving around within a few hours of waking up after a night out.

More Welsh drivers (27%) expect to be over the limit behind the wheel this Christmas than in any other region. This is followed by drivers in London (24%), the South East (23%), the West Midlands (23%) and the South West (17%). 16% of drivers also expect to take to the roads under the influence in Yorkshire and Scotland, 13% in the North West and 8% in the East Midlands.

The research has also revealed that residential streets will be mostly used (45%) by drivers who plan to have at least one drink over the festive period to get home. On average, drivers will travel five miles to get home after a festive get-together.

A third of drivers (33%) try to lessen the effects of alcohol by reaching for food before they drive. However as the Drink Aware website states: “Even small amounts of alcohol can affect your ability to drive so the only safe advice is to avoid any alcohol if you are driving.”**

Rather than trying to lessen the effects of alcohol, The Co-operative Insurance is urging people to designate a driver over the festive period to try to lessen the risks on the roads.

Nick Ansley, Head of Motor Insurance at The Co-operative Insurance, said:“The fact that over 740,000 drivers believe that they are going to be over the limit when they drive this Christmas is not only shocking but inexcusable.

“The effect of drink driving is far reaching and can have devastating consequences for the drivers themselves, their passengers, other road users and their communities.

“We are urging people to designate a driver this Christmas to ensure that everyone gets home safely.”

Over a tenth (11%) of people argue about who will drive over the Christmas period with the job often falling to Mum (17%) or Dad (19%).

Whilst many designated drivers (24%) are indifferent to their alcohol fuelled passengers it does seem happiness could be contagious with 18% of designated drivers feeling happy to be ferrying people home. That said, one in ten (11%) designated drivers get annoyed at their passengers, whilst 9% say they feel like they don’t want to drink again because of their merry passengers.


Note to editors

Research conducted in November 2015 with 72 Point, questioning 2,000 drivers.
*38,277,101 number of drivers in UK with full driving licences (source DVLA as of 9 May 2015), 10.8% believe they will have at least one alcoholic drink and drive the festive period (4,133,927). Of these, 18% believe they will be over the legal drink drive limit when they drive = 744,106 >

About The Co-operative Young Driver Insurance

The Co-operative’s Smartbox works like a Sat Nav or GPS to record driving style, rewarding safe young drivers with a discount every 90 days. It uses data collected from four different driving parameters, including average speed, acceleration or braking, the time of day the car is driven and how fast corners are taken. 
An added bonus of having the SmartBox installed is the useful tracking device meaning stolen cars can be recovered.

An online dashboard, which can also be accessed via a smart app, keeps track of the driving score and performance, enables access to the policy documents 24/7, and provides helpful tips to improve driving.  
All drivers can also download our App which gives real-time feedback on a motorists driving, and even pin points where good and bad driving behaviours are displayed on a journey.

For further information please contact

Jenna Moss
Press & Media Relations Manager – The Co-operative Group
Tel: 0161 767 4354/07770 441 828

About The Co-operative Insurance

The Co-operative Insurance is a major UK general insurer which offers home, motor, pet and commercial insurance products to its customers.
As a core business of The Co-operative Group, with approximately 1.2m insurance customers, The Co-operative Insurance is committed to supporting The Group purpose of “Championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities”.  The Co-operative Insurance pioneered the way in lowering the insurance premiums of Young Drivers as the first major insurer to launch a pay how you drive telematics insurance product for young drivers in 2011. 
CISGIL underwrites the majority of business written supplemented with some small lines of business where CISGIL acts as a distributor or has a 100% reinsurance arrangement in place. It also offers commercial insurance arranged and administered by Aviva Insurance Limited and pet insurance provided, underwritten and administered by Allianz Insurance plc.

About The Co-operative Group:

The Co-operative Group, one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives, with interests across food, funerals, insurance, electrical and legal services, has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, The Co-operative Group operates a total of 3,750 outlets, with more than 70,000 employees and an annual turnover of approximately £10 billion.