Austroads report reveals effective ways to reduce drink driving and road casualties

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Austroads has published a policy and regulatory framework designed to reduce drink driving and guide the implementation of drink driving countermeasures in the future.

Approximately 41% of the Australian population aged 14 years and over drink alcohol at least once a week, including 6% who drink daily, according to the National Centre for Education and Training on Addiction.

Drink driving is involved in about 18% of all road fatalities nationally, resulting in more than 200 deaths a year and thousands of serious injuries.

“As we developed the framework in the report, we consulted with all jurisdictions and learnt about the effective countermeasures they have in place,” says Eric Howard, report co-author.

“All Australian jurisdictions can improve their policies and practices in the short term by learning from each other, implementing some of the effective measures used in other states and thereby reducing fatalities and serious injuries.”

These measures include:

  • implementing immediate licence suspension at the roadside
  • increasing the number and hours of highly visible random breath testing, combined with covert operations, to accepted good practice levels, to improve deterrence
  • expanding the use of interlock programs, with improved monitoring
  • further developing solutions to reduce drink driving in remote and regional areas

“All Australian jurisdictions have now adopted a ‘Towards Zero’ approach to road safety. To meet the goal of zero lives lost on roads, new medium to longer term changes will be needed to address drink driving,” says Eric.

“Custom-made solutions are needed for regional and remote areas where there are few alternative forms of transport to private vehicles, speed limits are high and many roads have low safety standards”, says Anne Harris, report co-author. “Measures that specifically address the needs of people living in rural and remote communities, as well as indigenous and culturally and linguistically diverse communities, are likely to require different approaches.

We identified a range of new medium-term and long-term measures based on good international practice and research evidence.”

These measures include:

  • working more closely with the alcohol and other drug sectors and health departments to provide treatment and support for alcohol-dependent drivers, including case management
  • supporting measures to reduce societal use of alcohol, such as increasing its price
  • fast-tracking vehicle-based systems that prevent alcohol impaired driving
  • requiring high risk drivers such as drivers of commercial and heavy vehicles, learner vehicle and motorcycle drivers, and those convicted of prior drink driving offences to have a zero blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit
  • in the medium term, reducing the legal BAC limit for all drivers to 0.02 or zero.

Eric and Anne agree that if these measures were adopted in Australia, drink driving fatalities and serious injuries could be significantly reduced to support meeting the goal of zero fatalities on roads by 2050.

Download the report: Effectiveness of Drink Driving Countermeasures: National Policy Framework

Join report authors Eric Howard and Anne Harris for a free webinar on Thursday 9 April at 12.00pm to 1.00pm AEDT to find out about the legislation, and penalty and enforcement practices, in place across Australian jurisdictions and recommended improvements in policy and practice for both the short term and long term.

No charge but registration essential. Can't make the live session? Register and we'll send you a link to the recording.

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