The Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q) is one of the leading centres in Australia dedicated to research, education and outreach activities in road safety, and is a vital player in the international pursuit of road safety. The Centre has a commitment to achieve real and long-term results by providing research based information to policy makers and the community. This fact sheet focuses on Drink Driving • Drink driving is the number one contributing factor in approximately 30% of fatal crashes in Australia. • Over 1 in 4 drivers and riders killed on Australian roads have a BAC exceeding the legal limit.
- Drink driving remains a major contributor to fatalities and injuries on Australian roads, even though an illegal Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) limit has been in place for over 25 years.
- In 2015, the Queensland Police Service conducted approximately 3.65 million breath tests and detected over 22,000 drink driving offences – representing an offence rate of approximately 0.6%.
- A high proportion of repeat drink drivers have clinical alcohol dependence problems.
- Casualty crash risk doubles when driving with an alcohol level just in excess of 0.05 BAC, and the risk of involvement in a fatal crash increases even more sharply.
How does alcohol affect me?
- Alcohol is one of the most widely used drugs. It is a potent depressant which slows down the body by acting on the central nervous system, affecting both physical and mental functioning. Excessive drinking can cause cognitive impairment, which can affect judgement, memory and reaction time. The time it takes to remove alcohol from the body can also impinge on work and driving performance. An individual can drink a large quantity of alcohol in the evening and still have alcohol present in his or her body the next day.
- Drinking alcohol can affect drivers and the driving task by:
- Slowing down the reaction time – this can be crucial in an emergency situation.
- Dulling the thinking process making it difficult to multi-task – an essential skill necessary for safe driving.
- Reducing attention span – not noticing other drivers and/or vehicles.
- Causing blurred vision and reduced hearing – reducing your ability to drive safely and identify driving hazards.
How much can I drink?
- BAC is a measurement of the amount of alcohol in your body. In Queensland, it is illegal to drive a vehicle with a BAC of 0.05 or more. However, other drivers, such as novice drivers (who hold a Learners permit or Provisional licence) and professional drivers (e.g., taxi, bus and heavy vehicle drivers), are required to maintain zero BAC.
- A standard drink is said to contain 10g of alcohol. The following table shows drinks which are approximately one standard drink: