Drink drive ‘culture’ still prevalent – but there are other significant risk factors

A study has found that most New Zealanders think it’s fine to have one or two drinks then drive – probably because it is fairly safe.

There are a number of related risk factors that don’;t get talked about much while pushing ‘don’t drink and drive’ messages – age of driver, license of driver, speed, not wearing safety belts, open road driving.

ODT: Drink-drive culture still prevalent, study shows

Most New Zealanders have no issue driving to and from the bar and think it’s fine to have one or two drinks before driving to another destination, a new study into drink-driving behaviour shows.

The findings come as drugs and alcohol contributed to 80 fatal crashes, 144 serious injury crashes and 479 minor crashes in 2016, according to New Zealand Transport Agency figures.

Total road deaths in 2017 were 378, so alcohol related deaths are about one fifth of those. That’s a lot.

The study looked at Kiwi drink-driving habits at bars on a usual week of operation, then again a week later with new measures in place.

It found that most New Zealanders, 59%, will drive to a bar. Nine out of 10 drivers decided to drink and drive before arriving at a bar.

A majority – 68% – of drivers said they were happy to have one or two drinks before driving to another destination.

Is this a problem?

In the South Island, Pegasus Arms owner Alex Brackstone said that after 20 years in the industry, he felt the landscape of drink-driving had changed dramatically.

“The big change we see is that the attitude has changed with the older generation.”

I think that most of the older generation would be more likely to go to cafes and restaurants and have a drink or two rather than bars.

DB Breweries managing director Peter Simons said the survey illustrated that many people made their own rules around how much alcohol they could drink before “safely” getting behind the wheel.

“While over the course of the pilot study we saw a small decrease in the numbers of people driving home after drinking, we also found that nine out of 10 people driving to bars and restaurants had already decided to drink alcohol and drive home before they had left the house.”

An effective tool to stop drink-driving was that using prevention measure could sway a person’s decision to drive after drinking alcohol before they leave the house or step in a car.

Are they targeting the right thing here? I’m aware that for some people ‘a drink or two’ might creep up to three or four or more, but many people are able to stick to a drink or two and then drive reasonably safely.

Interventions

  • Clear availability of alcohol-free drinks
  • Food for drivers
  • Rewards for sober drivers
  • Zero per cent beers on the bar
  • Staff wearing T-shirts reading ‘When You Drive, Never Drink’, and complimentary keyrings with the same message
  • Barmats directing people to alcohol-free drinks and zero per cent beers
  • Digital, outdoor and carpark signage
  • Heineken staff telling people about the never drink campaign

Making more available and encouraging alcohol-free drinks is good. I’m not sure though about ‘When You Drive, Never Drink’ – if this was pushed and enforced it would certainly change Kiwi culture for many people.

I rarely go to bars (except for a meal), but I do go to cafes and restaurants with the intention of having a drink or two and driving home. I am careful about how much alcohol I consume, and I think I can still drive responsibly and safely.

A switch to never drink then drive would be a major culture change. It would rule out having a beer after work or having a glass of wine with a meal.

Public transport is not a practical alternative for me. The cost of taking a taxi – to and from eating out – is currently about $70 and would put me off going out, I would be more likely to eat and rink at home.

I understand that it is simpler to push a don’t drink at all then drive message. But is total abstinence going to make much difference? Are they targeting the wrong alcohol drinkers, the responsible ones?

If they can show through statistics that low alcohol levels substantially increase your risks when driving then I would reconsider my attitude and my ‘culture’.

This is old, the BAC level was been reduced to 50 in 2014, but this shows the risks related to blood alcohol levels.

https://www.alcohol.org.nz/resources-research/facts-and-statistics/nz-statistics/road-traffic-crashes-and-deaths

As I understand it a drink or two keeps you fairly safely under 50 BAC, especially if consumed over time while eating.

Some statistics:

Contribution of alcohol/drugs to crashes -over the years 2014–2016, alcohol/drugs were a factor in:

  • 29% of fatal crashes
  • 14% of serious injury crashes
  • 10% of minor injury crashes.

Alcohol/drugs and speed in fatal crashes 2014–2016:

  • 14% alcohol and drugs only
  • 15% alcohol/drugs and speed
  • 15% speed only
  • 57% other

Alcohol/drugs in fatal crashes by road type (2014–2016):

  • 20% open road with alcohol/drugs
  • 53% open road with no alcohol/drugs
  • 18% urban road with no alcohol/drugs
  • 8% urban road with alcohol/drugs

Safety belts:

Drivers affected by alcohol are less likely to wear safety belts than sober drivers. For the car and van drivers who died between 2014 and 2016, 47% of drivers affected by alcohol/drugs were not restrained at the time of the crash. This compares to 16% of drivers not affected by alcohol/drugs.

Restraint use was not recorded for about 20% of the drivers who die, so the level of restraint use may be even lower than indicated.

License type:

Unlicensed and disqualified drivers comprise 22% of the alcohol/drug affected drivers in fatal crashes.

Drivers with restricted or learner licences are more likely to be affected by alcohol/drugs than those with full licences. However, this group falls into the younger age categories, which are associated with more risky driving behaviour overall.

Time of accidents:

Late at night or in the early morning, from Friday night through to Sunday morning, is when the highest number of fatal crashes involving alcohol/drugs occurs

Source – Alcohol and Drugs Crash Facts 2017 [PDF, 952 KB]

I am over 30 years old (and over 50), so if I don’t consume other drugs, and I don’t speed, and I wear a safety belt (I alway do), am fully licensed, don’t drive late at night, and I don’t drive on the open road (where most deaths occur), then the risks of having a drink or two then driving must be quite low.

Lower still if a female drives (I usually drive because males can tolerate higher alcohol intakes).

We can’t do anything about our age and little about our sex, but there are significant risk factors apart from low level alcohol consumption – wearing a safety belt, speed, time, being properly licensed.

Road safety education should do more to explain how to reduce risk factors rather than concentrating on total abstinence while driving.

Just pushing zero alcohol while driving is likely to be resisted by our culture of enjoying a drink or two when going out.

Leave a comment

45 Comments

  1. Gezza

     /  January 8, 2019

    If I’m going out for a meal I’ll usually go to a local restaurant & have one drink – a single nip rum & coke most often. Most are within easy walking distance.

    I’d never drink a no alchohol or low alcohol beer. On rare occasions (like a hot day, when I’m at home and have been working outside, or if someone offers me one, to be social) I might have a beer instead of a coke, but as the taste of the stuff isn’t really all that appealing I’d rather get a buzz out of it so I prefer it to have alcohol.

    In Wellington City the parking fees are irritatingly high, the time limits a pain, & the commuter train service is good and it’s a short walk home from the nearest station, so I take the train if I’m going in to the place.

    If I’ve had more than one drink, I won’t usually drive. I’m too worried I’ll run into a police booze bus random testing operation, fail an initial breath test if the drink’s recent, & have to go through the hassle of a blood test to show I’m under the limit.

    Reply
    • acrossthespectrum

       /  January 8, 2019

      I go out 3 times a week for a meal. Day 1. Bread milk/tea/coffee and margerine, Day two . vege fruit meats/fish . Day 3. biscuits and Iscream. Can’t afford booze.

      Reply
  2. Chuck Bird

     /  January 8, 2019

    I got stopped a little before Christmas. I just had to talk into the first machine that was just meant to test if I any alcohol on my breath. I passed so I did not have to blow in a straw to test the amount. I had 3 drinks. However, I had a meal and probably was tested one hour after my last drink.

    I live about 20 km out of Hamilton where I met with my social group. The cost of a taxi would be out of the question and there is no public transport.

    I will continue to do what I am doing as there is no evidence that moderate drinkers are not a problem. Why should responsible people be punished for the actions of an irresponsible minority?

    Reply
  3. Alan Wilkinson

     /  January 8, 2019

    Attitude matters. I modify my driving according to how I feel. It’s called managing risk. If I am tired or hot or been out for dinner and had a glass of wine I drive more slowly and put more effort into being careful and vigilant. It used to be called common sense.

    Reply
    • Gezza

       /  January 8, 2019

      My old man told me as soon as I started learning to drive: “Always drive as if everybody else on the road is an idiot”.

      Reply
  4. PartisanZ

     /  January 8, 2019

    Ever since the appearance some years ago of the anti-drug-driving ads – aimed specifically at cannabis – which, when I was watching TV back then, slowly overtook anti-alcohol ads – statistical figures have been obfuscated and ‘prettied-up’ IMHO by such things as the lumping together of drugs & alcohol and the division of statistics into more-and-more loosely interrelated segments … Various cloaks of invisibility and prisms of refraction are wrapped around the Elephant in the Room …

    I’m not sure exactly how, but I feel certain some of these statistics could be packaged quite differently.

    – How many people only have one or two drinks?

    – What about drink-driving that occurs completely outside of licensed premises? Between parties? For the purposes of pre-loading? The liquor industry takes FA responsibility for this IMHO …

    What I’ve noticed over 20 years at our local hotel is that, aside from some Friday & Saturday nights and special occasions, what was once a pub-full of drink drivers has become a relatively small hard core of drink drivers … so ‘statistically’ the roads must be safer, right?

    Birdy’s argument is the same one used by “responsible dog owners” … and the American Rifle Association … “My ‘individual’ requirement to take risks which are identifiably harmful in the population of my ‘society’ – my social collective – because I think I’m ‘responsible’ – paves the way for irresponsible people [people I perceive as being irresponsible] to continue taking the same risks”

    Never mind that having been in an alcohol related accident does not necessarily equate with being an irresponsible person … Happens to plenty of responsible people too …

    It’s like the truck-related fatalities stats – 17-23% of fatalities – where vested interests are going to continue to prevent us really facing up to and significantly ameliorating or ‘solving’ the problem.

    This nation has a monumental problem with alcohol …

    Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  January 8, 2019

      Motorway truck fatalities are often the result of some driver forcing the truck into impossible evasive action. Happens on the open road too along with unsafe speed on bends.

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  January 8, 2019

        Also car meets truck is never going to end well.

        Reply
        • Kitty Catkin

           /  January 8, 2019

          I like the remark made by the policeman on the new ad; ‘Everyone thinks that they drive well…but I’ve never seen anyone crash well.’

          Reply
          • Kitty Catkin

             /  January 8, 2019

            Parti, our drink per capita is nowhere near as high as it is in many other countries.

            Reply
          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  January 8, 2019

            I’ve crashed well. Had a front tyre blowout on a bend in the midst of heavy traffic and fish-tailed it safely into the ditch.

            Cops often talk sanctimonious crap. Pretty sure they get trained to do it.

            Reply
            • Kitty Catkin

               /  January 8, 2019

              The crash meant on the ad is a real crash; not just going into a ditch. I wouldn’t call that a crash, unless you hit something. The crashed car in the background is a total wreck. The ad is talking about that sort of crash, not going into the ditch and there’s nothing sanctimonious about it.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  January 8, 2019

              If I hadn’t managed to control the car and make the quick decision to put it in the ditch it would have been a real head- on crash. I crashed well. The cop is talking sanctimonious crap.

              Another time I was cut straight across by a turning truck trailer whose indicator lights were connected the wrong way round on the big trailer. I was on a motorbike but managed to ditch into the gutter instead of going under the truck and trailer. Again I crashed well. The cop’s talking b.s.

    • acrossthespectrum

       /  January 8, 2019

      @PartisanZ “Various cloaks of invisibility and prisms of refraction
      are wrapped around the Elephant in the Room”
      Please tell me that’s an original quote of yours Parti 🙂
      Short version of the quote “It’s all sh#t man” 🙂

      Reply
      • PartisanZ

         /  January 8, 2019

        There’s little about me that isn’t original … Top quote huh?

        But no, it isn’t all sh#t man … though it might be said a lot of it is “men’s sh#t” …

        The statistics are purposely being twisted, veiled and obfuscated.

        One in three road deaths can be directly linked to alcohol. Do one third of police and road policing resources go towards preventing these deaths? I think not …

        And I think “Why not?”

        Reply
        • PartisanZ

           /  January 8, 2019

          And I think “Because alcohol is the social lubricant of this society … Our capitalist engine’s sump oil” …

          And I think “Why?”

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  January 8, 2019

            Cos a lotta people make a lotta moolah from it. Including the government.

            Reply
            • PartisanZ

               /  January 8, 2019

              And its one of several opiates of the masses …

  5. In some recent discussion about cannabis reform, there are those who are REALLY concerned that a law change will lead to many more ‘stoned drivers’; misinfo. because the ‘elephant in the room’ is the still very high numbers of drunk drivers. I heard a guy on ZB talkback saying (paraphrased) ‘It is a kiwi, ‘right of passage’ to drink (to excess) & that it is OK to drive home afterwards’ 1950-70s thinking.. he likely does not wear a seat-belt either ?!

    I think the words are: Double Standards. It is NOT OK to drive intoxicated with any Drug !!

    Reply
    • PartisanZ

       /  January 8, 2019

      We clearly need to address the ‘Kiwi’ and the ‘right of passage’ …

      BIG ASK!

      But access to legal cannabis for recreational-therapeutic purposes will perhaps begin to do exactly that?

      For many people – hopefully many of them our ‘Kiwi’ boy-men – one of cannabis’s beneficial properties is, after all, a kind of sensitizing consciousness expansion … ?

      Happy New Year Zedd!

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  January 8, 2019

        That’s ‘rite of passage’, surely, not ‘right of passage’ and I can’t remember hearing anyone saying that it’s a rite of passage for young men to do this. Even in the 70s, it wasn’t considered acceptable, as far as I know.

        The latest drink/drive ad with its incomprehensible plot, hideous idiots of characters (they seem like people whose families have been very closely inbred for many years) can’t be very effective, as no normal person would identify with these borderline subhumans. Putting Jason Gunn in does nothing to make it anything other than a confused mess.

        Reply
        • Gezza

           /  January 8, 2019

          I agree. After watching it a few times it felt like the one time I drank some datura.

          Reply
          • PartisanZ

             /  January 8, 2019

            “Rite”, yeah right Miss Kitty.

            Miss Kitty & Gezza, Who knows what the agency guy, guys or ‘creative team’ were on when they pitched this Ad? And who knows who they pitched it to?

            Someone at NZTA? That says a lot … some ‘Agency’ dude?

            They probably had a brainstorming session like: So … What kinda plot would appeal to these kinda youngish dudes … you know … Maori … uneducated … drunken … dumb … thick … smashed … living in squalor … addicted to surfing as well as liquor … And like, who watches ‘free-to-air’ TV any more anyway!?

            So … it needs to be kinda disjointed … like things are when you’re a pissed subhuman … but full of camaraderie and celebrities the subies might relate to …

            It’s not incomprehensible to me. It’s just a mish-mash. They’ve tried to cram in a ‘sojourn’, journey, quest or ‘rite of passage’ plot along with the ‘Stop a mate driving drunk … Legend’ message developed many years ago. I could’ve written it … I could’ve been a deceitful lying ‘Agency Guy’ …

            The summer I spent down the ‘Naki as a surfie we used to go to farmer’s gates and ask permission to cross their land to get to amazing surf breaks … They never refused … There was a coastal consciousness back then (1975-76) which no doubt disappeared during the 80s and 90s …. though I shouldn’t assume that just from the Ad …

            TV Ads can never hide their true meaning, intentions and hidden agendas …

            https://www.nzherald.co.nz/national-video/news/video.cfm?c_id=1503075&gal_cid=1503075&gallery_id=196350

            The question is, IMHO, do these adverts make any difference? If they don’t, the Taxpayers Union ought to be asking why we are paying for them using ‘other people’s money’ …

            Reply
            • PartisanZ

               /  January 8, 2019

              That’s not really what the Taxpayer’s Union is about though, is it?

        • PartisanZ

           /  January 8, 2019

          Perhaps they’re not trying to appeal to “normal people” Miss Kitty … but to borderline subhumans?

          Borderline subhuman is a rather unkind term to describe many Kiwi emotionally-underdeveloped males [and some females no doubt] …

          The Ad … like all Ads … will be ‘agency guys’ who consider themselves to be super-normal, trying to portray their fellow Kiwis they consider borderline subhuman …

          Reply
          • Gezza

             /  January 8, 2019

            I dunno. Ma doesn’t drink so she doesn’t drink and drive anyway. But the 3rd time ma watched it, and then tried to figure it out, it nearly drove her to drink. :/

            Reply
            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  January 8, 2019

              When you see something really stupid you can be sure the taxpayer is paying for it.

            • Gezza

               /  January 8, 2019

              Exactly. Look at the current POTUS,

            • Gezza

               /  January 8, 2019

              I win again.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  January 8, 2019

              I knew you would say that but I didn’t care. It was so pathetically obvious it’s sad.

            • PartisanZ

               /  January 8, 2019

              So where is the so-called ‘Taxpayer’s Union’ on this Alan?

              Oh yeah … Busy being just another Right-Wing lobby group …

            • Gezza

               /  January 8, 2019

              Sore loser.

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  January 8, 2019

              Trumpy knows lots of sore losers. Don’t feel too bad, you are not alone.

          • PartisanZ

             /  January 8, 2019

            A TV Commercial-Public Education Advert like this is essentially a 30 second to 1.5 minute ‘story’ or ‘narrative’ …

            According to Hollywood’s rules for screenplay [story-scripting] it must have conflict, crisis and change … a protagonist figure or figures [hero], an antagonist or -ists [anti-hero] and usually a side-kick or two as well … and something to say … the message …

            And a ‘style’ … which this one lacks some coherence on … along with just too many characters …

            But its got all the ingredients. I’ve seen TV dramas that have made less sense to me …

            Reply
  1. Drink drive ‘culture’ still prevalent – but there are other significant risk factors — Your NZ – NZ Conservative Coalition

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