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Drink-driving: Most drivers would be 'ashamed' to be caught

Drink and car keys Image copyright Thinkstock

Nearly all motorists would be ashamed to be caught over the drink-drive limit, according to new research.

The poll, to mark the 50th anniversary of the first campaign against drinking and driving, showed 92% of the public would be ashamed and that 91% believe it is unacceptable to drink and drive.

Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said the change in attitudes is a "huge success story".

Road deaths due to drinking and driving fell from 1,640 in 1967 to 230 in 2012.

The first public information film on the issue, released in 1964, was set at an office party. Its message was: "Four single whiskies and the risk of accident can be twice as great. If he's been drinking, don't let him drive."

The new poll, carried out by the government's THINK! road safety campaign, showed that 18 to 24 year olds are more likely than 55 to 64 year olds to think drinking and driving is acceptable.

In the older age group, 1% said it was acceptable, compared to 7% of people in the younger age category.

The survey of 2,000 people also showed that 88% of the public would think badly of someone who drinks and drives and that 45% would rather tell their partner they watched pornography than confess to being caught drinking and driving.

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Media captionLook back at THINK! campaign videos from the past 50 years

Mr McLoughlin said: "It is hard to imagine now how shocking and ground-breaking the first drink-drive campaigns were when they launched. Clearly THINK! has had a significant impact.

"Most of us understand drink-driving wrecks lives but there is further to go. In 2012, 230 people were killed in drink-driving accidents - 230 too many.

"This makes the THINK! campaign as relevant as ever."

In a 1979 survey, half of all male drivers, and nearly two-thirds of young male drivers, admitted drinking and driving on a weekly basis.

'Change in attitudes'

Shaun Helman, head of transport psychology at the Transport Research Laboratory, said: "Compared with 50 years ago, drink-driving is now very much minority behaviour.

"This change has been achieved through firm laws, highly-visible enforcement, and a sea change in public attitudes - drink-driving is now frowned upon by the vast majority of people.

"No-one working in road safety is complacent, though. Through a commitment to catching drink-drivers, and through harnessing peer pressure, we will continue to reinforce the message that drink-driving is completely unacceptable."

A new campaign is being released by THINK! to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the first film. It juxtaposes the 1980 Kool and the Gang song Celebration with scenes of a car crash and its aftermath.

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