Drivers who have been drinking are 15 times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than sober drivers. This is among the statistics presented in the European Road Safety Observatory’s new thematic report on driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Around 25% of all road deaths in the EU are alcohol-related.
The crash risk associated with drugs depends on the type of drug. Of all illegal drugs, the risk is greatest - at least 5 times higher - if someone has taken amphetamines, multiple drugs, or alcohol combined with drugs.
It has been estimated that 1.5 to 2% of the kilometres driven in the EU are done so by someone with illegal blood alcohol content (BAC). This equates to millions of drivers under the influence of alcohol. On a positive note, alcohol-related fatalities have decreased somewhat faster than the number of other road crash fatalities.
The report also highlights effective measures against impaired driving, which include: strict legislation backed by police enforcement, providing alternative transport means, awareness campaigns, rehabilitation courses, safety culture in companies, alcohol interlocks, and in-vehicle technology that warns or intervenes when impairment leads to critical events.
The EU has set a 50% reduction target for road deaths and serious injuries by 2030, as set out in the EU road safety policy framework 2021-2030.
Road traffic rules and their enforcement, including on alcohol limits, remain largely the responsibility of EU Member States. However, in 2001, the European Commission issued a Recommendation on the maximum permitted BAC for drivers of motorised vehicles which recommended, amongst other measures, lowering the BAC limit for novice drivers.
As part of the revision of the EU driving licence directive, the Commission also proposed, in March 2023, an EU-wide probationary period with stricter rules on drink driving for novice drivers. This is currently the subject of negotiations with the Council and European Parliament.
Today’s report is part of the Commission’s efforts to promote safe mobility across the EU. Additional periodic research publications by the European Road Safety Observatory are under preparation, each focusing on a key road safety topic.
- Publication date
- 12 October 2023
- Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport