China has been concerned about the serious problem of drinking and driving road crashes, and it has made good progress by establishing strict laws, imposing serious penalties, and initiating a rigorous enforcement program since 2008. This study has assessed the magnitude and nature of the problem and reviewed the legislation, current practices, and institutional capacities for preventing drinking and driving.
Data and information were collected using existing reports and by consulting officials and experts from a number of agencies.
Although there were no national statistics on levels of drinking and driving, random breath test surveys in 2 southern cities showed that between 4.5 and 4.6 percent of drivers were driving over the minimum legal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit of 20 mg/100 mL. Preliminary results from crash data also showed that at least 20 percent of serious road crashes were alcohol related in these cities. The national published figure for fatal crashes caused by drinking and driving was much lower, only 4 percent, but alcohol was not often identified as the main cause because of measurement difficulties. China's legislation sets 2 BAC limits that are comparable with international norms. It has recently increased the penalties for drunk driving, the more serious of the 2 offenses, with a minimum driving ban of 5 years. The police are actively enforcing the laws through frequent roadside checking but they need more resources. Alcohol breath tests before and after a combined publicity and enforcement campaign indicated reductions of 87 and 68 percent of drivers over the legal limit in 2 southern cities.
China has made progress in strengthening its approach to preventing drinking and driving, particularly in the area of law enforcement. However, it is not possible to evaluate the potential benefits because of data issues. Recommendations for the future include the need to improve the national road crash and injury database, strengthen the coordination of key agencies, and provide more effective and sustained public information campaigns that target vulnerable drivers and are integrated with enforcement strategies. Evaluation and research are important to improve future prevention programs.
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