Posted on 01 May 2014
Australians would go to great lengths to stop their family and friends from drink or drug driving, with new research revealing 1 in 12 people would call the police on their mates, while 1 in 7 would actually remove an engine part to immobilise their vehicle.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers surveyed more than 2,000 Australians with nearly half (47 per cent) saying they had been with someone who had driven or wanted to drive their car while under the influence of alcohol or drugs – and more than a quarter (26 per cent) said that it happened at least once a month.
Motor vehicle accident lawyer Craig Lynch said the vast majority (81 per cent) of Australians who had been around someone when they were about to drink or drug drive revealed they had taken it upon themselves to prevent them from getting behind the wheel.
“Alcohol continues to be a major factor in serious casualties on our nation’s roads with more than one quarter of fatal crashes involving a driver who is under the influence*,” Mr Lynch said.
“Our research backs these road crash statistics by showing that everyday Australians are dealing with friends and loved ones who are still wanting to drive after a few drinks or taking drugs.
“Importantly though, a huge majority of people clearly know the devastating impact road trauma can have, and they are actually taking steps to prevent it.”
Mr Lynch said the top ways that Australians had or would prevent drink or drug driving were: reasoning with the drinker (53 per cent), hiding their keys (48 per cent), ordering a taxi (47 per cent), giving them a lift home (43 per cent) or enlisting help from others (28 per cent). Respondents could choose multiple answers.
“All motor vehicle accidents are preventable, but drink driving incidents are particularly senseless. And decades of research tells us that the crash impact and subsequent injuries can be more significant when alcohol is involved,” he said.
“It’s a really positive sign from this research that most Australians want to prevent drink driving and they would use a range of strategies to do it."
“Just 6 per cent of people surveyed said they wouldn’t take any action at all, and from my experience they either wanted to avoid an ugly confrontation or they believed it was simply none of their business.
“The bottom line is, as community members we need to weigh up whether it’s worth staying silent just to avoid a single moment of awkwardness.”
Mr Lynch said responsible drinking messages seemed to be making an impact but it would be a mistake to rest on our laurels.
“It’s troubling that people are still driving, or at least attempting to drive, while drunk or drugged, so we must continue campaigning and keeping it relevant, especially for younger people,” he said.
“We tend to think less about consequences once we’ve been drinking, so the key will be to urge people to make arrangements for a designated driver or taxi before going out.
“Don’t put your mates and loved ones in the terrible position of having to stop you from drink driving.”
*Source: Australian Transport Council, National Road Safety Strategy 2011-2020.