Authors Kris Beuret OBE, Heather Ward and Claire Corbett.

This research was commissioned by the Rees Jeffreys Road Fund and supported by Direct Line Insurance Company.

The key finding was that although overall rates of driving whilst under the influence of alcohol are falling and men still have higher conviction rates than women, the proportion of women drunk driving in increasing especially among affluent older women. Lack of awareness of this trend was leading to overemphasis on male offenders by both road safety messaging and police targeting.

There was also evidence that women are unaware of what constitutes a unit of alcohol, and how much they can drive after drinking without being above the legal limit. Thus, over a third of women in the survey said that they could drive legally after drinking a pint or more of beer although a pint of 5% beer is 2.8 units. Similarly, 15% of women thought that they could drink more than a standard (175 cc) glass of wine and still drive safely when that equates to at least 2 units.

These findings were widely disseminated at conferences and via the media and have fed into support for lowering the drink drive alcohol limit as well as agreement that road safety statistics should identify the sex of offenders.