·         Skiers 43 per cent more likely to be involved in a crash after consuming alcohol, reveals innovative Direct Line simulator experiment

·         Drinkers on the slopes spend 53 per cent more time off piste than sober skiers

·         7.2 million people consume alcohol while skiing

·         1,000 injuries every day during ski season are a direct result of consuming alcohol while skiing

·         42 per cent of winter sports enthusiasts injured after consuming alcohol couldn’t continue skiing for duration of holiday

In the last five years, 8.1 million UK adults have taken-off to the mountains for winter fun, with 5.3 million of them consuming alcohol while on the slopes, reveals new research1 from Direct Line Travel Insurance.

The research shows that 3.8 million people have reported injuries on ski slopes as a direct result of drinking alcohol over the past five years. This equates to around 1,000 incidents every day during the ski season. The most common accidents are minor such as sprains (1.9 million) and bruises or cuts (1.5 million). However, more serious injuries also happen such as broken limbs (1.3 million) and torn ligaments (970,000).

While the majority of these injuries required little or no medical treatment, 40 per cent resulted in treatment on the slopes before the skier could continue down, while one in 11 victims needed to be transported off the mountain. Furthermore, 42 per cent of these incidents resulted in the skier being unable to ski the rest of their trip, with six per cent having to head home early.

When asked about their evening drinking habits, 7.2 million admitted they drink alcohol in the evening following a day of skiing. On average, skiers drink 6.1 units of alcohol (the equivalent of three double spirits and a mixer) when on the slopes, though almost one million people claim to consume more than 10 units (the equivalent of five double spirits and a mixer).

When asked about the effects of alcohol, 13 per cent of those who have been on a skiing holiday do not believe consuming alcohol while skiing is dangerous. In fact, 29 per cent believe it gives them more confidence and makes them a better skier, while 13 per cent feel it is more acceptable to consume alcohol if you are a good skier. However, 22 per cent are less confident and think consuming alcohol makes them a worse skier, while nine per cent don’t think it affects their skiing ability at all.  

The insurer recently conducted a unique experiment2 to assess how alcohol affects someone’s ability to ski. The experiment, which saw experienced skiers completing runs on a ski simulator and then testing the impact of their performance after consuming alcohol, revealed people are 43 per cent more likely to be involved in a crash after consuming alcohol.

The findings show that even a small amount of alcohol can impact a skiers’ confidence and decision-making ability.

The study showed how alcohol can impair judgement; participants who had consumed three units of alcohol spent 53 per cent more time off piste than their sober counterparts. 

Tom Bishop, Head of Travel Insurance at Direct Line, said: “The number of people reporting accidents on ski slopes as a result of drinking and skiing in recent years is quite alarming. We know that skiing is very much a social holiday, however, we want people to enjoy themselves safely. Our practical experiment showed how just a small amount of alcohol can affect decision making. When travelling at 60 miles per hour, it only takes a split second to make a mistake which could cause a serious injury to either yourself or someone else on the slopes.

“No one wants to be sitting on the side-lines with an injury while the rest of their group continues to enjoy their time skiing. We encourage all skiers to refrain from drinking alcohol until they have finished skiing for the day, and even then, keep in mind how many units they are consuming as the effects could last into the next day.”


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Notes to Editors

1        Research conducted by Opinium Research among 2002 UK adults between 11th and 15th October 2019

2        Experiment conducted on 36 participants on a ski simulator on 13th November 2019. Participants completed three runs on a simulation of 1.92km downhill ski run and consumed three units of alcohol prior to completing the second and third runs, resulting in a total of six units of alcohol being consumed. Each run took place within half an hour of the last to ensure that the alcohol was not metabolised before taking part in the next run.

Participants were rated on:

·         the time they took to complete the course

·         the number of slalom flags missed (out of a total of 15)

·         the total amount of time spent skiing off-piste

·         the number of collisions they were involved in with the edges of the course

3        The 43% figure benchmarked performance on the simulator with the number of crashes recorded rising from one every 32 miles of skiing to one every 18 miles after having three units of alcohol and six units A control group of seven sober participants was used to account for the improvements in performance made through becoming familiar with the simulator

For further information please contact:

Naomi Kombe 
Media Relations Executive
Direct Line Group

01651 832895
[email protected]

Samantha Stewart

Citigate Dewe Rogerson

[email protected]

0207 025 6497

Direct Line

Started in 1985, Direct Line became the first UK insurance company to use the telephone as its main channel of communication. It provides motor, home, travel and pet insurance cover direct to customers by phone or on-line.

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