Referred to as ‘drunk walking’ in some countries, it is a challenging road safety issue.
While the dangers of driving while under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs have received considerable publicity and public safety messaging over many years, drunk walking has seen less attention – despite the fact it probably occurs regularly.
During 2019, statistics show that across Scotland a total of 87 reported road traffic collisions with injury had ‘pedestrian impaired by alcohol’ recorded as a contributory factor, and there were a further 15 where pedestrians were recorded as being ‘impaired by drugs (illicit/medicinal)’. These resulted in six deaths.
Ewan Wallace, Head of Environment and Sustainability at Aberdeenshire Council and Chair of Road Safety North East Scotland, said: “The risks of walking whilst under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be significant.
“When adding other factors such as wearing dark clothing on unlit roads which have higher speed limits, the dangers only increase.
“Pedestrians who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs can be unsteady on their feet, have reduced control of their actions and are more likely to stumble or fall.
“Over the years we have seen a number of North-east collisions where pedestrians, who have been under the influence of alcohol or drugs, have been seriously injured or lost their lives following involvement in a collision.
“For people going out socially and drinking alcohol, the advice is always to try and plan ahead and make arrangements in advance about how to get home safely. This could involve pre-booking a taxi or arranging to be collected by someone at a pre-determined time and location.”
Other road users can also play an important role by alerting the emergency services if they have a concern for someone walking who is obviously drunk and potentially poses a serious risk to themselves.
Mr Wallace added: “No-one wants to see a tragic ending to a night out and planning in advance can make a huge difference in ensuring that someone gets home safely.”