Car Insurance and drugs and alcohol

drink driving

Do you know how drinking and drugs impact on car insurance? 

“No claim will be paid if the driver is found to be under the influence of either drugs or alcohol.” This applies to all private and business vehicle insurance and for the first time the point is now being emphasised by insurance companies and brokers at the point of renewal or quotation.

The UK rollout of roadside drug testing has been criticised recently. The program has had very marked regional variations, with some police forces being far more aggressive in its implementation than neighbouring forces.

No data is yet available for its impact on drivers.

Business drivers and particularly businesses who are dependent on employees driving their vehicles have the double risk of both logistically losing a driver, but also facing having any insurance claim arising from an accident being declined by the insurance company. At this time it is not clear if this would extend to third party claims made against the driver, which may then be pursued personally against the driver and worst case, against the business who, it will be argued, may have irresponsibly allowed them to drive a company vehicle whilst ‘under the influence’.

It is recommended companies employing drivers take steps to ensure drivers are aware of the law and repercussions for driving with regard to drugs and alcohol. Where appropriate, the introducing of random screening can help both with awareness and with compliance. It also goes some way in allowing a defence against corporate neglect of duty.

The provision of “self-test” single-use breath test kits for alcohol, allow drivers to self-regulate when placed in a situation of having had alcohol in the last 8-10 hours (morning after the night before scenario )

Where appropriate, the introducing of random drug and alcohol screening can help both with awareness and with compliance. It also goes some way in allowing a defence against corporate neglect of duty.

Contact UK Drug Testing for drug and alcohol testing kits and for help implementing a screening programme at work.

Should drink driving rules for newly qualified drivers be different?

The UK’s current legal limit allowing you to drive with alcohol in your system is 80 milligrams of alcohol per 100 millilitres – in most of Europe, the legal limit is often between 20 and 50 milligrams per 100 millilitres of blood, showing that the UK is actually more lenient than many countries…but are we too lenient?

It’s already well-known that newly qualified drivers have more accidents than those who are more experienced. In fact, research has shown that newly-qualified drivers can be up to 2 seconds slower at recognising possible hazards and  dangers than more experienced drivers – and this is without the influence of alcohol!

If this is the case, then why is it that newly-qualified drivers can drink the same amount of alcohol as those who are more experienced and still get away with it? Surely it’d make sense to reduce their allowance?

But what does society class as a ‘newly qualified driver’? Is it someone who’s been driving for a year? Half a year? Yet, some people will drive every day, others only once per week. Should we ask the drivers to clock their miles? It all seems a little much.

Nonetheless, something needs to be done. In the UK, only one in eight drivers license holders are under the age of 25 – yet one in three deaths are caused by drivers under the age of 25. On top of this, one in five new drivers is involved in a crash within their first year of driving. Surely, drinking won’t help this?

Arguably, a lot of drink-driving related accidents take place at night. Statistically, a newly qualified driver is much more likely to make a mistake in the dark – and it’s not difficult to see why. Lowering the drink-driving allowance for those who are newly qualified is likely to reduce the number of accidents that take place later in the evening.

From these factors alone, it is clear to see that drink-driving is an extremely serious hazard which needs to be tackled. It is highly unlikely that the issue will ever completely be put to a stop, but it is definitely within our power to reduce the number of accidents that occur. The only question is: how far should we go?