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New figures from the Department for Transport have highlighted a growing problem with drink-driving, as alcohol-related driving deaths in the UK hit an 11-year high during the pandemic.

Around 220 people were killed in 2020 during collisions involving a driver who was over the limit.

The figure represents a 13.1 per cent increase versus the previous 12 months, with drink-related driving deaths representing 15.1 per cent of fatalities throughout 2020.

Edmund King, President of the AA, said: “The increase in the proportion of these fatalities may be linked to some people consuming more alcohol during lockdown and more people avoiding public transport.

“Unfortunately, the consequences of heavier drinking at home seem to have had dire consequences on the roads in 2020.”

Alcohol testing and safety critical roles

The figures released by the Department of Transport align with an increase in enquiries seen by the AlphaBiolabs workplace team in recent months.

The workplace team has fielded a growing number of enquiries from employers working in transport and logistics, with a view to implementing drug and alcohol testing for drivers.

As a leading provider of workplace testing services, AlphaBiolabs works with employers across the UK offering a range of testing products and solutions including management and employee awareness training, post-rehab and return to work testing programmes, random and for cause testing, sample collection training, and managed sample collection services.    

As well as transport and logistics, there are several other industries for which workplace alcohol testing plays a fundamental role in risk management by reducing the likelihood of workplace accidents.

Some of the most safety critical sectors include construction, manufacturing, aviation, and railways.

In 2021 a report from the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) advised that vehicles should be fitted with ‘alcolocks’ for drivers who had been convicted of drink-driving; an initiative that could significantly reduce the number of drink-driving incidents within transport and logistics firms.

The PACTS report titled Locking out the drink driver recommended that alcohol interlocks (alcolocks) could be used effectively to deter reoffending by preventing the vehicle from starting if the driver had alcohol in their breath above a set level.

How does alcohol impair your driving? 

So, how exactly does drinking affect your ability to drive a vehicle?

The effects of alcohol on the body are varied.  However, when it comes to driving, one of the most dangerous side-effects is the way in which alcohol impairs your ability to make responsible decisions.   

When a person consumes alcohol, it is broken down by the liver and ethanol (the intoxicating agent in alcoholic drinks) is released into the bloodstream.

The effects of alcohol consumption include delayed signals from the brain, resulting in slower muscle response, reduced ability to process information, and lowered inhibitions meaning you’re less likely to repress potentially harmful behaviour (such as getting behind the wheel when you’ve had a drink).

All these factors pose a significant risk for people working in roles that require them to drive.  

By implementing a workplace alcohol testing programme, employers can uphold their responsibility for keeping staff safe, as well as reducing the likelihood of employees endangering themselves and members of the public by drink-driving.  

Options for workplace alcohol testing from AlphaBiolabs

As a UKAS-accredited testing laboratory with extensive experience in the provision of workplace testing, we offer a range of alcohol testing services for companies of all sizes, from SMEs to large-scale enterprises.

There are several options for alcohol testing in the workplace but the most common method is non-invasive breath alcohol testing.

When taking the test, the person being tested for alcohol blows into a breath alcohol device, with the results given as a digital readout.

The readout is shown as a number known as the breath alcohol concentration (BAC), which shows the level of alcohol in the breath at the time the test was taken.  

There are two options for performing breath alcohol sample collection in the workplace.

The first is utilising AlphaBiolabs’ UK network of trained sample collectors, who can visit company premises and perform a breath test.

Our rapid response call-out service means that a collector can be on site as soon as possible (ideally within two hours of suspected alcohol misuse). Alcohol levels typically drop by one unit per hour, so time is of the essence for breath alcohol testing.

Alternatively, AlphaBiolabs can deliver on-site training, so that your company is equipped with members of staff who are able to perform the testing themselves.

One major advantage of having staff trained in breath alcohol testing is that you can perform testing more quickly, without the need to call on an AlphaBiolabs sample collector.

Whichever way you decide to perform your alcohol testing, having a robust workplace alcohol testing policy is proven to deter the misuse of alcohol in the workplace.

It also contributes to increased productivity and the reduction of sickness absence, as well as safeguarding employees and members of the public, and helping you avoid damage to your company’s reputation.

Request a quote for workplace alcohol testing today

At AlphaBiolabs, our team of workplace experts can help you decide which testing solutions are right for you, as well as providing advice and guidance on your workplace alcohol testing policy.

Our solutions can be tailored to suit the needs of your business, allowing you to find the best fit for your organisation.

For more information or to request a quote, call our friendly workplace team today on 0333 600 1300 or email workplace@alphabiolabs.com.