Nearly one in five drivers (19%) admit to having taken a risk by drink driving at Christmas, according to an AA/Populus poll of more than 22,000 drivers launched at the start of a joint AA/Pernod Ricard anti drink drive campaign.

However half of these drivers revealed that their drink driving happened over 20 years ago, while another 4% admitted to drink driving between 10 and 20 years ago.

But 3% still admit to drink driving in the last five years, including 1% who admit to drink driving last year.

This research also shows that drink driving is more likely to happen when people are young, and that social norms and attitudes to drink driving have changed over time. 

Thirty years ago many drivers viewed drink driving as an acceptable risk, and out of almost 6,000 people a year killed on the roads, 1,550 (26%) of these were reported to be drink drive accidents. In 2011, 1,901 died, 280 (15%) in drink drive accidents.

The AA says much of the change in social attitudes has been influenced by drink driving campaigns, and it has welcomed the return of the Government’s Think! television campaign this Christmas.

The AA/Populus poll showed that 50% of respondents felt that better education and publicity about drinking and driving had made the biggest contribution to reducing drink drive deaths. Some 16 % felt that greater responsibility among motorists were the main drivers of that change.

The AA campaign with Pernod Ricard UK is aimed at younger drivers, trying to make them take more responsibility. The AA will be targeting drivers while Pernod Ricard UK will target drinkers. The joint message is “Don’t Drink and Drive.”

Edmund King, AA president, said: “Our research shows that the number of drivers admitting drink driving has dropped dramatically over the past 20 years although  280 people were still killed in drink drive crashes last year.

“Campaigns are essential to reinforce the message for the majority of drivers and to educate the new generation of drivers. It really is not worth dying for the sake of a drink. Drinking and driving do not mix. Our key message is if you are going to drink, don’t drive and if you are going to drive, don’t drink.” 

Denis O’Flynn, managing director of Pernod Ricard UK, said: “We are pleased to continue this campaign to educate drivers to accept responsibility, particularly over the Christmas season.

“Our partnership focuses on education as the most effective way to tackle consumption of alcohol. Although the numbers risking drink driving have dropped dramatically over the last 20 years, new and experienced drivers still need to be reminded of the risk. One drink driver is still one too many.”