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Female 40 Something Professionals In Drink Drive Epidemic

By raccars Published

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A University College London road safety expert has conducted research, revealing that stress is driving women professionals in their forties to alcohol, leading to drink driving convictions for this demographic almost doubling over 14 years. In the 40-49 age group, women drivers are far more likely to exceed the legal drink driving limit in the UK than men.

Heather Ward's investigation blamed the stress of family problems, including children leaving home and marital break down, presenting her findings at Wednesday's UK Road Safety Summit in London. Honorary senior research fellow, Ms Ward, believes that modern women are drinking more than ever, thanks to the relaxation of social prejudices against women drinking. Many women are apparently also worried about personal safety concerns using public transport or taxis, preferring to risk getting behind the wheel after drinking.

Ms Ward, speaking at the conference on drivers using drink, drugs and mobile phones, suggested the legal alcohol limit for a breathalyser test should be set lower for women. She claims the current legal alcohol limit is based on how the male body metabolises alcohol and is inappropriate for smaller, female bodies.

In 1998, women made up only 9% of drink driving convictions, but in 2012 that proportion had risen to 17%, although the overall conviction rate was lower. The number of male drivers convicted of drink driving actually halved from 2003-2012, from 0.49% to 0.24%. However, the proportion of women drivers convicted of drink driving over the same period remained nearly the same, at 0.07% in 2003 and 0.06% in 2012.

Ms Ward questioned a number of women drivers on their attitude to alcohol and found that 60% of those who had driven while over the alcohol limit believed they were safe to do so, because they knew their bodies. Nearly a third felt it would be OK to drive when over the limit if they were very careful and one in six claimed they did so out of necessity, such as being obliged to collect a child. One in seven believed they were not likely to get caught because police focus on stopping men rather than women drivers.

The women questioned also displayed a distinct lack of awareness about drink driving limits, believing that they were safe to drink a couple of glasses of wine before driving. However, Ms Ward claims that wine glasses are larger than they used to be on average and that the wine served is stronger. It was also noted that women felt that most anti-drink driving campaigns focused on male drivers and did not apply to them.

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