Road deaths involving drink-driving incidents are at their highest level since 2009, according to official estimates.
Provisional figures released by the Department for Transport show that between 240 and 330 people were killed in in Great Britain in 2017 in crashes where at least one driver was over the drink-drive limit, with a central estimate of 290. Estimates are rounded to the nearest 10 fatalities.
Drink driving fatalities had fallen significantly until 2010 (240) but have been between 200 and 240 annually for the whole of this decade so far.
An estimated 8,660 people were killed or injured in drink incidents, a fall of 4% compared with 2016.
RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: ‘Looking at these estimated figures there could be an increase of up to a 33% in the number of road deaths resulting from an accident where one or more drivers was over the drink-drive limit.
'This is a serious cause for alarm and reflects a worrying change in attitude by a number of drivers who are prepared to risk their own life and that of others by drinking and driving. Anyone who has lost a loved-one in a drink-driving accident will testify to how devastating and needless this is.'
Mr Williams said research for the latest RAC Report on Motoring revealed the proportion of drivers who admitted to driving when they thought or knew they were over the legal limit shortly after drinking had increased from 8% to 12% with a quarter (24%) of all drivers aged 25 to 44 admitting to this.
He suggested that the reduced number of roads policing officers may be leading more drivers to think they can get away with drinking and driving. But he added: ‘However this is a major issue for society and we need to refocus our efforts to raise awareness of the risks.’
Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, said: 'From our own research, more than a third (37%) say that drink drivers are unlikely to be caught due to a lack of police presence in their area.'