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

02 December 2015

  • 31% of those planning to drink drive still believe ‘it won’t harm anyone’
  • Co-op 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-op 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 used 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-op 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-op, 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
*** https://www.gov.uk/drink-driving-penalties


For further information please contact:

Jenna Moss
Press & Media Relations Manager – The Co-operative Group
Tel: 0161 767 4354/07770 441 828
Email: jenna.moss@co-operative.coop


About The Co-operative Insurance

The Co-operative Insurance is a UK-based General Insurer that operates principally within the personal lines segments of the Motor and Home Insurance markets. The Co-operative Insurance underwrites the majority of business written, supplemented with some small lines of business where The Co-operative Insurance acts as a distributor or has a 100% reinsurance arrangement in place.

The Co-operative Insurance, a core business within The Co-operative Group, also offers commercial insurance arranged and administered by Aviva Insurance Limited and pet insurance provided, underwritten and administered by Allianz Insurance plc.

With more than 1.18m customers, The Co-operative Insurance is committed to ‘Doing the Right thing’ and always strives to treat customers and members fairly. 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. Since launching the scheme, The Co-operative Insurance has saved its young drivers more than £7.2 million in their first year of driving.