Drink-drive deaths at record low

Police officer carrying out a breathalyser test The number of accidents involving a death remained at 350

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The number of people killed in road accidents caused by drink-driving has fallen to an all-time low, provisional government figures show.

Deaths fell by 5%, from 400 in 2008 to 380 in 2009, while serious injuries fell 9% to 1,480.

Minor injuries fell 8% to 10,130, while the number of drink-drive accidents fell 7% to 8,050.

The provisional statistics are based on road accidents reported to police involving drinking and driving in 2009.

The number of accidents involving a death remained at 350.

Road Safety Minister Mike Penning said he was encouraged by the figures, "but 380 people still died because a small minority of drivers risked getting behind the wheel after drinking.

"We will continue to work to tackle this irresponsible minority and protect law-abiding road users."

Provisional casualty figures for all types of accidents for British roads for the first three months of 2010 have also been published by the Department for Transport.

In the period January to March there were 420 deaths, 24% fewer than in the same period in 2009.

The total number of people killed or seriously injured in the first three months of this year was down 13% at 5,290.

There were falls in casualty rates in all categories of road user in the first three months of this year.

Professor Stephen Glaister, director of the RAC Foundation, said the fall in total fatalities was extremely welcome.

"Death and injury on our roads do not just cause physical and emotional damage to victims and their families, but they also cost the country dear in economic terms," he said.

"The government must make sure that in an era of cuts it encourages councils to keep spending on road safety measures so these figures can be at least maintained and hopefully improved on."

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