Random Breath Test tactics fail to deter drunk drivers

Jan 07, 2014 by Kerry Faulkner
RBT tactics fail to deter drunk drivers
“While in WA the reduced volume of RBTs and the targeting of those RBTs done, may be resulting in the increasing number of alcohol related traffic crashes observed,” Mr Ferris says. Credit: Newtown grafitti

Western Australia's random breath testing strategy may be capturing more drink-drivers but not deterring drink-driving behaviour for the community.

That's the finding of research using random breath test (RBT) data from WA Police Services Traffic Policy Unit and Queensland Police Service's Traffic Analysis Unit to explore the relationship between breath testing and alcohol related traffic crashes (ARTC).

The two states deploy RBTs differently; Queensland uses a saturation approach where drivers are pulled over indiscriminately and the sites and times of the operations vary.

WA's is more targeted with specific times and locations for RBT actions like 'booze buses'.

The report says both saturation and target testing should deter people from drinking and driving but because drivers think there is less chance of them being caught in a targeted operation, it is not as effective a deterrent.

University of Queensland's Institute for Social Research senior research fellow Jason Ferris says the findings are significant.

"Starting in July 2004, the monthly number of alcohol related traffic crashes in WA was slightly higher than that of Queensland relative to the population of licenced drivers," he says.

"Over the following five years, Queensland's rate has remained stable whereas the rate in WA has been increasing significantly.

"While there may be other explanations – we believe that the stable rates in Queensland are a function of the high volume non-targeted RBTs.

"While in WA the reduced volume of RBTs and the targeting of those RBTs done, may be resulting in the increasing number of alcohol related traffic crashes observed."

The research further found that the number of alcohol related traffic crashes in WA would be cut by 15 per month if the number of random breath tests conducted by police was doubled.

This would mean an additional 50,000 RBTs per month.

The findings, titled "Random breath testing in Queensland and Western Australia: Examination of how the random breath testing rate influences alcohol related traffic crash rates" have been reported in Elsevier and researchers say they provide valuable evidence on the effectiveness of RBT in deterring drink drivers.

Mr Ferris says future research will include determining the optimum level of RBT enforcement and if a national RBT policy is needed.

"A national RBT policy is something that we believe in – and are currently extending our research to examine other states and jurisdiction data looking at the association between RBTs and alcohol-related ," Mr Ferris says.

Explore further: Busted drink driving? It's more likely in the country than the city

More information: "Random breath testing in Queensland and Western Australia: examination of how the random breath testing rate influences alcohol related traffic crash rates." Ferris J, Mazerolle L, King M, Bates L, Bennett S, Devaney M. Accid Anal Prev. 2013 Nov;60:181-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.aap.2013.08.018. Epub 2013 Aug 30.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

RBT study shows a little respect goes a long way

Dec 19, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- In a world-first trial, criminology researchers at The University of Queensland have tested the theory of procedural justice in policing and found that respectful dialogue with citizens during routine encounters ...

Drunk driving can make holiday season deadly

Dec 23, 2013

(HealthDay)—The holiday season is one of the most dangerous times of the year on U.S. roads. Between Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve, as many as 900 people nationwide could die in crashes caused by drunk ...

Trucks found to be a significant cause of severe accidents

Dec 06, 2013

Trucks are responsible for 4,500 deaths per year in the United States. Truck crashes also cause huge losses in productivity, property and personal injury. New research just published in the International Journal of Injury ...

Recommended for you

Study finds law dramatically curbing need for speed

Apr 18, 2014

Almost seven years have passed since Ontario's street-racing legislation hit the books and, according to one Western researcher, it has succeeded in putting the brakes on the number of convictions and, more importantly, injuries ...

Newlyweds, be careful what you wish for

Apr 17, 2014

A statistical analysis of the gift "fulfillments" at several hundred online wedding gift registries suggests that wedding guests are caught between a rock and a hard place when it comes to buying an appropriate gift for the ...

Can new understanding avert tragedy?

Apr 17, 2014

As a boy growing up in Syracuse, NY, Sol Hsiang ran an experiment for a school project testing whether plants grow better sprinkled with water vs orange juice. Today, 20 years later, he applies complex statistical ...

Creative activities outside work can improve job performance

Apr 16, 2014

Employees who pursue creative activities outside of work may find that these activities boost their performance on the job, according to a new study by San Francisco State University organizational psychologist Kevin Eschleman ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Returners
1 / 5 (1) Jan 07, 2014
People who are going to break laws, or do other risky behavior do not generally curb behavior due to "deterrent" policies; not education, not the threat of punishment or accidental death.

Examples:
"No diving. Risk of death on rocks." - They dive anyway.
threat of detention, corporal punishment, suspension, etc at school - They fight, bully, do drugs on campus anyway.

Don't drink and drive. - "Hey, it won't happen to me, that's somebody else, etc," and drives anyway.

Surgeon General's Warning: "Nah, I'll smoke a pack or two per day anyway."

"Bath Salts" is killing people: "Hey, let's go try it! I never did that drug before. I wonder how it feels?"

As soon as you point out something is negative, risky, or even just plain evil, people with the "I'll try anything once," attitude are apt to go try it just to find out for themselves, first hand, what's wrong with it. Then they get addicted to it if it's a drug or alcohol, compounding their idiocy even further.

More news stories

Clippers and coiners in 16th-century England

In 2017 a new £1 coin will appear in our pockets with a design extremely difficult to forge. In the mid-16th century, Elizabeth I's government came up with a series of measures to deter "divers evil persons" ...

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.