Sunday, October 24, 2010

Blood alcohol levels of fatally injured drivers 2008

The majority of drivers with fatal injuries were in the 0 - 0.03 category.

5 were in the 0.05-0.08 margin but 2 of those (15-19 year-olds) were already driving illegally. They can be excluded from estimates about saved lives because the assumption being made by those clamouring for a drop in BAC from 0.08 to 0.05 is that those driving legally would lower their intake if the law was changed.

As I have already commented on Kiwiblog, responding to the NZ herald's Two Drinks Max campaign, I never drink more than two at the current limit anyway. And there are probably a number of people who adopt that limit but don’t want to see 0.08 lowered. If we go to 0.05 the next call will be to go to zero. That will mean no drinking at all within 8 or so hours of driving. Anyone who had a few drinks the night before will probably be over the limit in the morning. And if you don’t think the revenue gatherers will exploit that, then you are wrong.


Dex said...

So now the Police are revenue gathering when they target drink drivers?

Bye bye credibility.

MacDoctor said...

You are overlooking the fact that some 0.05% drivers may cause fatal accidents where the sober people in the other car are killed. We have no idea how many this may be, but the 15-33 figure quoted is a straight line extrapolation of the current statistics. I find this reasoning very suspect.

Accidents are extremely complex and rarely involve a single factor. In addition, most of the overseas data involves increased policing and public awareness campaigns running at the same time as the drop to 0.05%. It is therefore not possible to say what causes the reduction in fatalities.

The only way we can be sure of the facts of what we are doing is to insist on breath alcohol levels from all accidents that police are called to, regardless of whether a fatality occurs or not. Then we would need to correlate that data with breath alcohols from random check points, to get an idea of what portion of the public is actually driving with levels above 0.05% and whether the accident rate at 0.05% is significantly lower than the rate at 0.08%. Hopefully, it would also tell us the level of severity of accidents at 0.08% and 0.05% as it may be that 0.08% just increases severity of accident rather than number.

Only with all this data can we then make a rational decision.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

MacDoctor, I am also overlooking that some of the people who have alcohol in their blood may not have caused the accident that killed them. Agree with you about the complexity.

Dex, I can envisage that if the limit was zero alcohol the law may allow for a lesser penalty for a very low reading such as 0.01
That lesser penalty may very well be a fine.

Psycho Milt said...

Macdoctor: it's funny that this fairly-obviously-necessary data isn't available to inform a decision, and yet the supposedly objective lobby group big-mouths are saying we already have more than enough data to form a decision. Well, no we don't - we have shitloads of irrelevant data like the blood-alc levels of dead drivers, or foreign data that may or may not have relevance to our situation, but we don't have the data necessary to inform this decision.

Anonymous said...

""No one likes car crashes. But to imply that drinking somehow impairs one's ability to control a vehicle is just scaremongering – and it's precisely this sort of jittery overreaction that causes most accidents in the first place. The simple fact is that only by calming our minds with alcohol can we keep a steady hand on the tiller."

Nick Clegg as channelled by Charlie Brooker.