Australian efforts to increase road safety by setting a legal BAC have resulted in reductions in road casualties in the last decade but still drink driving is the major cause of injuries and fatalities on Australian roads. One out of five drivers killed in road accidents in Australia have a BAC higher than the legal limit (1). Therefore, alcohol driving is a major concern to road safety.
Alcohol driving is a high risk activity that exposes the risk taker to certain death or a permanent injury. It is also a risk to other drivers on the road and it has a high social cost to the society.
Risks of drink driving
There is evident research that suggests that drunk drivers are more prone to accidents. In Australia, 600-700 road accident deaths occur in situations where the driver has BAC level of .05 gm/ml or more (2). Drunk driving is risky because it impairs driver’s depth perception, judgement and motor skills. Research by Veldstra et al. (2012) reveals how alcohol level impairs different abilities necessary for safe driving (3). Some of the findings of their research about the effect of alcohol on driving have been summarized in the table below:
Impact of alcohol
Drivers tend to drive fast when BAC>0.5%
Rate of response increases as BAC increases
At high alcohol level the person starts to accept more risk so risk behaviour increases
Drunk person has to assess more