Driver breath test figures fall by half

Police carried out only half as many breath tests on drivers in the North East last year than a decade previously, new figures show.

Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 3:33 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th November 2020, 4:00 pm
A police breath test

Drivers' organisations said the decline in roadside breath tests was "worrying" and blamed police cuts for the record low number.

Home Office figures show 4,388 breath tests were conducted by Northumbria Police in 2019 – 51% fewer than in 2009, when there were 9,009.

Nationally, the number of roadside tests fell to 285,000 – down 12% on the previous year and a reduction of 57% from the peak of 670,000 tests in 2009.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

AA president Edmund King blamed the “massive reduction in the number of specialist traffic officers” for the reduction in testing.

He said: “While cameras are a useful tool in helping police our roads, we cannot solely rely on them.

“A camera cannot stop a drink-driver, or pull over someone driving carelessly, so having more cops in cars will help eliminate poor and dangerous driving.

“The lack of roads police has led to drivers thinking they can get away with certain offences.”

RAC roads safety spokesman Simon Williams said: “These are extremely worrying figures and will only further arouse suspicion from drivers that road traffic laws are simply not being properly enforced.”

A Home Office spokeswoman added: “Enforcement is only one way in which we ensure our roads remain among the safest in the world, with a robust system to ensure drivers are properly trained and vehicles adequately maintained.

“How roads policing is undertaken and how resources are deployed is the responsibility of individual chief officers and crime commissioners.”