It may bring presents, food and festive cheer but Christmas also brings the added pressure to drink and drive, according to a new survey.
A study of more than 18,500 drivers by the AA found that 17% of people feel a greater expectation to drink before they get behind the wheel during the festive period – up significantly since 2011, when the figure was 5%.
Those piling on the pressure to “have one for the road” include work colleagues, who 42% of people identified as the pushiest, along with friends, who 41% said were the worst offenders when it comes to piling on the pressure to drink-drive.
The findings come as police launch a crackdown on drink and drug driving over the Christmas period, with forces across England and Wales running “intelligence-led” operations to target motorists who get behind the wheel under the influence.
During last year’s Christmas campaign, police stopped more than 100,000 vehicles, with 5,698 breath tests that were positive, failed or refused.
These are cases where the driver is found to be over the legal limit by a breathalyser, refuses to give an officer a specimen of breath, or gives a specimen of breath but it is not sufficient to determine a result.
Anthony Bangham, National Police Chiefs Council lead for roads policing, said: “Every year police forces deal with cases of drink or drug driving that directly result in families facing Christmas without loved ones.
“Yet thousands of people still get behind the wheel after drinking or taking drugs – so this year we are supporting forces who want to tell the personal stories of lives lost and families torn apart.”
He said recent operations showed higher rates of detection for drugs and alcohol than in recent years, suggesting the scale of the issue is still a “real concern” and warned that those who drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs face an unlimited fine, disqualification from driving and more than a decade in prison.
Edmund King, AA president, added: “It is worrying that people are still encouraging others to take such risks. An almost three and a half times increase in the number of drivers under pressure to drink and drive is not a good sign.
“A cocktail of peer pressure, bravado and a fear of missing out makes it harder for young drivers to say no.
“So if a friend or work colleague offers you a drink when you’re driving, say no thank you.
“The best way to look at the situation is – if you are going to drive, don’t drink and if you’re going to drink, don’t drive.”