As we move into the festive season and the annual campaign to stamp out drink-driving gets under way new figures have revealed the worst parts of Britain for drink and drug-driving.
Data from seven million car insurance applications over the past 12 months shows that Sunderland is the worst postcode area in the country for drink or drug-driving convictions, with almost three (2.91) for every 1,000 drivers, up 1.3 per thousand over the previous year.
Truro in Cornwall (2.6) and Coventry (2.53) are in second and third place, with all three areas entering the top 10 for the first time. Crewe, which had the highest number of offences in the UK last year, dropped to sixth place, despite its number of convictions rising overall from 1.69 to 2.29 per 1,000.
There was less change at the other end of the scale, with London dominating the postcodes with the lowest number of convictions for the second year. The postal area of North London saw just 0.59 convictions per 1,000 drivers, while five other London postal areas also feature in the bottom 10 – North West, West, East, South East and South West.
Outside London, Luton also features in the bottom 10, as do Bolton, Exeter and St Albans.
While the data is based only on applications to one website it reflects government figures which show a slight increase in failed breathlyser tests between 2015 and 2016 (0.2 per cent), and rising numbers of convictions for drug-driving since specific limits were introduced in 2015.
The analysis found men are most likely to get behind the wheel while under the influence but the total rate of convictions has increased since 2016 for both male and female drivers, rising from 1.39 to 1.68 per 1,000 for men and from 0.92 to 1.20 per 1,000 for women.
The data was gathered from applications submitted to MoneySuperMarket. Its consumer affairs expert, Kevin Pratt, commented: “Most people rightly view drink and drug driving as totally unacceptable. Although our analysis shows that it’s a minority that are offending, it’s worrying to see that convictions have increased since last year.
“There are serious consequences if you’re caught drink or drug driving… so the message is clear: if you’re in any doubt about your sobriety, don’t drive. The temporary inconvenience you might suffer by not driving is a far better option than the life-changing upheaval that follows a conviction.”
In 2015 new drug driving laws were introduced in England and Wales which made it an offence to drive after having certain drugs above prescribed levels. The laws apply to a list of both illegal and some prescription drugs. The laws were not introduced in Scotland or Northern Ireland but similar legislation is expected to come into force in Scotland in 2019.
To see the levels of convictions in your area you can use the interactive map produced by the study.