Statistics relating to drink driving injuries
Australia has one of the highest rates of car accidents caused by drink driving in the world. This is surprising considering our small population. Our attitude to alcohol seems to play a large part in this. Despite this, drink driving death and injury rates are a lot less than they were 40 years ago. Government and Police advertising campaigns, as well as education in schools have reduced this number.
The biggest influence on these rates however would be Random Breath testing. The legal alcohol limit of 0.05% has been around for over 25 years. Large fines and loss of license is a strong deterrent for the majority of people. Most people are now strongly opposed to driving after more than 1 or 2 drinks. Some will not drive after even one.
Drink driving is still a major cause of death and injury on Australian roads however. 635 drivers, passengers, cyclists, and pedestrians have died on Australian roads to June 2019. This is a marked increase (13.8%) on the road toll from 2018.
Despite numerous Public Service announcements, Police road blocks, televisions commercials, and increased fines, people are still not getting the message. They are still being killed and injured on our roads. 30% of all road accidents that end in a fatality are caused by a driver over the legal limit of 0.05. 90% of these drivers were men.
A large percentage of those killed while drink driving have mental health issues or have alcohol addiction problems. Many of these people have been caught by a Police RBT (Random Breath Test) or have been involved in an accident before. Some of those killed or injured are first offenders, who simply made one fatal mistake.
The risk of injury doubles when driving just over the 0.05 limit and the risk of death increases even more. Most people however are more worried about being caught by police in an RBT. Facing a fine or losing their licence is worse than the risk to themselves or their passengers through drink driving. There seems to be a “It won’t happen to me” attitude about fatal road accidents.
How alcohol affects you
Alcohol affects different people in different ways, depending on age, weight, gender, how much food has been eaten. Furthermore, whether you are regular drinker or not will affect the result a breath test. Alcohol can also affect the same person in different ways on different days. Three drinks one day may keep you under the limit, a week later it may put you over.
Reduced driving ability when drink driving generally follows the same pattern for everyone. Alcohol slows your reaction time, which can mean the difference between life or death in an emergency situation. Alcohol reduces your attention span and makes you easily distracted. It also causes blurred vision, reduced hearing, and reduces your ability to multitask. These are all important skills when driving. Drink driving is dangerous for the driver and those around them, including other innocent road users. No level of drink driving is 100% safe.
Drink driving causes road accidents
Road accidents are the main cause of death in the 15-29 age group around the world. Speeding and drink driving are the two main causes of these accidents. Statistics in Australia however show that road accidents in the 17-25 age group Australia are actually decreasing. Younger people have access to a huge amount of information and have had education about not drink driving from a young age. This generation generally appears to be learning from the mistakes of the older generations. They drink a lot less than older generations in general and are actually now more likely to follow road rules.
Middle aged and elderly people are now statistically more likely to drink drive. These groups drink more in general per capita than the under 25’s. They are also more likely to see drink driving as non-risky. They also feel that they are capable of driving when they are not. There is a general feeling of being used to alcohol and therefore more capable of drink driving safely.
City versus country
People in regional areas are also more likely to drink and drive. They are also more likely to die doing it. In NSW last year 85% of regional road fatalities were due to alcohol. Maybe these people think there are less likely to be RBT’s and less traffic. Maybe they believe that they can cope with their alcohol affected driving on quieter country roads. The statistics prove this wrong.
There are also less options available for safer travel in regional and rural areas. For example, public transport is often virtually non-existent. Long distances can also make taxi’s or other ride share options expensive. This does not excuse drink driving but can help to explain why regional Australians are more likely to drink and drive. Urban drinkers have many more options in transportation so are more likely to drink safely.
The future of drink driving
We have come a long way from the days when it was common to jump in the car after drinking. This was almost expected 40 years ago. Driver education has made sure that whether through fear of losing their licence or fear of killing or hurting someone else or themselves, most people now see the sense in not drink driving. There is still a long way to go however. The use of a personal breathalyser is one way to make sure that you do not end up as a statistic or in prison. More and more people are choosing this option, so we can only hope that less people chose drink driving in the future.