HC Deb 16 December 1999 vol 341 cc240-1W
Mr. Hammond

To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions what percentage of road accident deaths in each of the last 10 years involved(a) excess alcohol, (b) drugs and (c) both. [100043]

Mr. Hill

The percentage of persons killed in accidents where one driver or rider involved was over the legal alcohol limit in each of the last ten years was as follows:

1989 15
1990 15
1991 14
1992 16
1993 14
1994 15
1995 15
1996 16
1997 15
1998 13

Statistics are not available for road accident deaths involving drugs or both alcohol and drugs. The Department has recently completed a three-year sample survey of the incidence of drugs in road accident fatalities for which interim results were released in February 1998. These showed that 6 per cent. of all road users (including drivers, riders, passengers, pedestrians and cyclists) had measurable traces of medicinal drugs and 16 per cent. had traces of illicit drugs (mainly cannabis). The results also showed that 19 per cent. of the sample of drivers and riders killed had taken illicit drugs and consumed alcohol over the legal limit. A full report on the research will be available next year.

The presence of drugs in an accident victim is not evidence of accident causation, although there may be an association. The picture is further complicated by cannabis, because traces can remain in the body for four weeks or more after use, long after it has ceased to have any effect.