Alcohol was the cause of 52 driver deaths on NSW roads in the first 10 months of the year.
Alcohol was the cause of 52 driver deaths on NSW roads in the first 10 months of the year.

Worrying drink driving trend putting road users at risk

A NEW survey has shown how some drivers have reckless disregard for themselves and others.

Research conducted by the NRMA found that about one in four people who drank alcohol believed they were still drunk the next morning. In turn, more than a quarter of these still got behind the wheel.

Drivers aged under 25 were even more defiant with 59 per cent believing they were still drunk the next morning and of those 54 still got behind the wheel.

Two-thirds of respondents who got behind the wheel believing they were over the limit excused the behaviour by saying they had work or other plans that morning. This was followed by a further 32 per cent saying there was no other form of transportation.

NRMA safety expert Dimitra Vlahomitros said that 93 per cent of drink drivers killed on our roads were men. And the vast majority of those were under 40.

However, even though deaths and injuries on NSW roads have been decreasing over the past decade, alcohol was still the major reason for 55 deaths in 2017 and 52 in the first 10 months of 2018.

"NRMA members rank drink-driving as their second biggest road safety fear," says Vlahomitros.

"It's been over 40 years since the NRMA launched the state's first ever education campaign to tackle drink driving and there is still a lot of work to be done to save lives."

The only way to reduce your blood alcohol limit is time but only 60 per cent of respondents believed this to be the case.

Instead many said they ate or drank water or coffee to counter the effect of the alcohol.

NSW Police conducted more than 5 million RBTs last year. Pictures: David Swift
NSW Police conducted more than 5 million RBTs last year. Pictures: David Swift

"Last year, NSW Police conducted nearly five million breath tests, so people getting in the car with alcohol in their system over the holiday period are at great risk of getting caught - if they don't kill themselves or others first," she says.

Earlier this year the NSW Government passed new drink-driving laws that increased on the spot fines for low-range offences from $482 to $561 plus an instant three-month licence suspension. First time mid-range offenders would have an alcohol interlock system fitted to their vehicle.

NSW Roads, Maritime and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey favours the stronger deterrents as she says parts of the community are not getting the message.

"The 0.05 limit has been in place in NSW for almost 38 years. (The measures are) about driving home to the community that there are no more excuses," says Pavey

"The message to the community is powerful. Have a Plan B. Because if you drink-drive, you will be caught and you will lose your licence."


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