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Monday, September 2, 2013

Random breath testing in Queensland and Western Australia: Examination of how the random breath testing rate influences alcohol related traffic crash rates

In this paper we explore the relationship between monthly random breath testing (RBT) rates (per 1,000 licensed drivers) and alcohol-related traffic crash (ARTC) rates over time, across two Australian states: Queensland and Western Australia. We analyse the RBT, ARTC and licensed driver rates across 12 years; however, due to administrative restrictions, we model ARTC rates against RBT rates for the period July 2004 to June 2009.

The Queensland data reveals that the monthly ARTC rate is almost flat over the five year period. Based on the results of the analysis, an average of 5.5 ARTCs per 100,000 licensed drivers are observed across the study period. For the same period, the monthly rate of RBTs per 1,000 licensed drivers is observed to be decreasing across the study with the results of the analysis revealing no significant variations in the data.

The comparison between Western Australia and Queensland shows that Queensland's ARTC monthly percent change (MPC) is 0.014 compared to the MPC of 0.47 for Western Australia. While Queensland maintains a relatively flat ARTC rate, the ARTC rate in Western Australia is increasing. Our analysis reveals an inverse relationship between ARTC RBT rates, that for every 10 percent increase in the percentage of RBTs to licensed driver there is a 0.15 decrease in the rate of ARTCs per 100,000 licenced drivers. Moreover, in Western Australia, if the 2011 ratio of 1:2 (RBTs to annual number of licensed drivers) were to double to a ratio of 1:1, we estimate the number of monthly ARTCs would reduce by approximately 15.

Based on these findings we believe that as the number of RBTs conducted increases the number of drivers willing to risk being detected for drinking driving decreases, because the perceived risk of being detected is considered greater. This is turn results in the number of ARTCs diminishing. The results of this study provide an important evidence base for policy decisions for RBT operations.

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