Characteristics of the Danish Drink Driver

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1 T27 Seattle, Washington Characteristics of the Danish Drink Driver Inger Marie Bernhoft*, Tove Hels, and Tanja Legind Rendsvig, Danish Transport Research Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Denmark Abstract Characteristics of drink drivers (BAC - blood alcohol concentration - above.5 %) have been identified by means of personal injury accident databases, criminal records on convictions for drink driving and qualitative interviews with drivers, charged for drink driving. Both the number and rate of accident involved drink drivers aged have decreased markedly over the years, whereas the number and rate of drivers aged have not. On the contrary, both the number and rate of convicted drink drivers aged and are increasing whereas the group of has stabilised. Moreover, the fraction of accident involved drivers with a BAC above.15 % is much higher for the than the Based on per capita rates, the convicted drink driver is most often a man who is single, has no education or is a workman, but is unemployed. Countermeasures should mainly be directed at the and year old unemployed single men without any education or educated as workmen. However, as about two thirds of the convicted drink drivers are employed, this group should also be taken into account. Introduction Most western countries have seen a decrease in road accidents since the beginning of the 197s. Further reduction will be more difficult since the most rewarding measures, such as safer cars and increased use of seat belts, have already been implemented. Therefore a further decrease implies more detailed identification of risky drivers in order to be able to address various target groups in different ways and thus be more efficient in implementing countermeasures. Objectives The objectives of this study was to obtain more detailed knowledge about drink drivers and to identify them more precisely as a background for proposing targeted countermeasures. Drink drivers are known to constitute a very high risk group, and therefore form an excellent target group for preventive measures. Methods Characteristics of Danish drink drivers (BAC - blood alcohol concentration - above.5 %) were identified by means of three different data sources: Personal injury accident databases , criminal records on convictions for drink driving , as well as qualitative interviews with drink driving offenders carried out in 26 on the spot of the offence. The database of convicted drivers has been linked to databases with information about various socio demographic variables, such as education and employment.

2 Drivers from all three data sources have been divided into subgroups in order to clarify in more detail the development in the survey periods and the situation today and thereby propose measures to decrease drink driving suited directly for those subgroups. Results Development in the number and rate of drink driving accidents and convictions Between 1977 and 1992 there was a marked decrease in the per capita rate of drink drivers in personal injury accidents for all age groups whereas the decrease in recent years has been less. However, the decrease is much more marked for the group aged than for the other age groups. The rate per capita of drink drivers aged in personal injury accidents is still (24) app. three times that of Number per 1, 5 4 age age age age Number per 1, age age age age age Drink drivers in personal injury accidents driving Drivers convicted for drink In contrast, both the absolute number and the rate of convicted drink drivers aged and are still increasing whereas the rate for the group aged has stabilised. The increase is most evident for drivers that are convicted for drink driving but have not been involved in drink driving accidents. Furthermore the increase is dominated by singles aged that are unemployed. The change in the legal limit from.8 % to.5 % in 1998 may to some extent have contributed to the increase.

3 It is obvious that drink drivers aged and constitute two rather different subgroups regarding accident involvement. Both the absolute number and the rate of accident involved drink drivers aged have decreased markedly over the years, whereas the number and rate of drivers aged have not. aged per 1, 1 BAC.5-1. BAC BAC > aged per 1, BAC.5-1. BAC BAC > Drink drivers per capita involved in personal injury accidents, age and age Among the accident involved drink drivers aged 18-24, one third belongs to each of the BAC intervals of.5-.1 %, % and above.15 %. On the contrary, among the accident involved drink drivers aged 25-64, three times as many drivers have got a BAC in the interval above.15 % than in each of the other two intervals. Thus, the fraction of accident involved drivers with a BAC above.15 % is much higher for the group aged than for the group aged This holds for both personal injury accidents as well as for fatal accidents. As for the development, the sharpest decrease is found in the rate of high BAC s above.15 % for both age groups. A similar distribution of age by BAC interval is found in the interviews of suspected drink drivers. Characteristics of convicted drink drivers Men are the overall drink driving problem both regarding accident involvement and convictions. Women account for less than 1 percent.

4 Although singles constitute the highest rate of drivers convicted for drink driving in all age groups, also couples that live together without being married are overrepresented among drivers convicted for drink driving in all age groups. Singles have got an especially high rate of convictions in the age group of years. There is no clear picture of the housing of the drink driver. However, it seems that convicted drivers aged 35 and above tend to live in a flat, compared to single-family houses or terrace houses. Although people with no education except for primary school or workmen constitute the overall highest numbers among drivers convicted for drink driving, there are some differences in the various age groups. In the age group of 18-24, workmen are overrepresented in the rate of convictions, followed by those without any education. The rate of convicted drink drivers, aged 18-24, who have graduated from upper secondary school level is much lower, but the rate seems to have been increasing in recent years and the rate of those with a higher education - although only covering small numbers is alarming. In the age group of 25-34, the highest and increasing rate is found among those with only mandatory primary school education, followed by workmen. 8 6 Primary school Secondary school Workmen Service related ed. Higher ed. and university Unknown 4 2 age age age age age 65+ Number per Primary school Secondary school Workmen Service related ed. Higher ed. and university 8 4 age age age age age 65+ Number of convicted drink drivers by education Rate of convicted drink drivers by education

5 The rates for unemployed convicted drink drivers aged and are much higher compared to those having a job. But for the group aged 18-24, these rates are of equal size. However, two thirds of the convicted drivers are employed, reflecting that the number of people who work is much higher than the number of people who are unemployed. Furthermore, the interviews of suspected drink drivers are dominated by drivers who have got a work, either as non educated or as workmen which also reflects that their share of kilometres is higher than that of the unemployed under education working retired unemployed unknown age age18-24 age age age 65+ Number per 1, 8 under education working retired unemployed age age18-24 age age age 65+ Number of convicted drink drivers by employment Rate of convicted drink drivers by employment Accident characteristics The proportion of drink drivers in personal injury accidents is higher in rural areas than in urban areas compared to the total number of accident involved drink drivers in rural and urban areas. After a decrease in the proportion of accident involved drink drivers compared to the total number of drivers in personal injury accidents both in rural as well as in urban areas, the trend in

6 recent years shows a slight increase in the number of accident involved drink drivers in rural areas whereas the number seems to be constant in urban areas. The nights of Friday to Saturday and Saturday to Sunday between 1 pm and 6 am are the periods of most drink driving accidents. But during the last ten years there has been a tendency towards a higher concentration of accidents in the weekday afternoons and from around am to around 4 am in the night between Saturday and Sunday. Criminel offences other than drink driving The number of accident involved drink drivers with a valid driving licence has decreased markedly over the years, whereas that of drink drivers without a legal driving licence has been rather stable. Among the recidivists regarding convictions for drink driving, there is an overrepresentation of other types of criminal offences, and a considerable number drives without a driving licence or during a period of suspended licence. Thus, around 3 % of the convicted drink drivers do not have a valid driving licence. The dominating reason for young drivers is that they have never been in possession of a licence whereas more of the mature drivers drive during the revocation period. The interviews with drivers charged for drink driving shoved that a great deal of the interviewees needs their driving licence during work. Furthermore, one fourth of the interviewees had had alcohol on their work place on the actual day before they were stopped by the police. This indicates that the situation regarding drinking and driving was a normal situation for the majority of these drivers. Conclusion and discussion of countermeasures Based on per capita rates of convicted drivers, today s typical drink driver is characterised by being a man who is single, has no education or is a workman, but is unemployed. In general, this holds for all age groups. Countermeasures should mainly be directed at the and years of unemployed single men without any education or educated as workmen. However, as about two thirds of the convicted drink drivers do work, this group should also be taken into account. The drivers convicted for drink driving, including accident involved drink drivers, consist of various sub groups of drivers with different characteristics. Therefore, countermeasures aiming at reducing the drink driving problem should be largely differentiated, depending upon the target group. The decrease among the young people indicates that they are probably more easily influenced by means of campaigns and other trends in the society. Strategies against drink driving should consider a differentiation between young people and middle aged people education and occupation plays an important role drink driving may be related to the work place

7 enforcement towards young drivers should be concentrated on weekends This study focuses on identifying the various target groups. Nevertheless, there is still a lack of knowledge regarding the attitudes to alcohol consumption and the motives behind drink driving. Based on the results it is recommended to concentrate future efforts towards the following age groups and social positions: Countermeasures should be directed at the age group of The main problem is seen in the group without any other education than the mandatory basic school education or persons educated as workmen. This holds for the total number as well as for the rate. But in addition to this, there seems to be an increase in the rate of young drink drivers who have graduated from upper secondary school level although the number is much lower. Countermeasures should also be directed at the age group of without any other education than the mandatory basic school or persons educated as workmen where an increase in the number of convictions for drink driving has been observed during the last decade. Finally, countermeasures should be directed at the large group of drink drivers who drive to work or use the car during their work. Key words: Drink driving, accidents, convictions References Bernhoft, I.M., Hels, T., Rendsvig, T.L. and Orozova-Bekkevold, I. (27). Karakteristik af spiritusbilisten. Report 1/27. Danish Transport Research Institute,

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