Review of the under the limit drink driving rehabilitation program

Palk, Gavan R., Sheehan, Mary C., & Schonfeld, Cynthia C. (2006) Review of the under the limit drink driving rehabilitation program. Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland, Brisbane, Qld.


The combination of alcohol and driving is a major health and economic burden to most communities in industrialised countries. The total cost of crashes for Australia in 1996 was estimated at approximately 15 billion dollars and the costs for fatal crashes were about 3 billion dollars (BTE, 2000). According to the Bureau of Infrastructure, Transport and Regional Development and Local Government (2009; BITRDLG) the overall cost of road fatality crashes for 2006 $3.87 billion, with a single fatal crash costing an estimated $2.67 million. A major contributing factor to crashes involving serious injury is alcohol intoxication while driving. It is a well documented fact that consumption of liquor impairs judgment of speed, distance and increases involvement in higher risk behaviours (Waller, Hansen, Stutts, & Popkin, 1986a; Waller et al., 1986b). Waller et al. (1986a; b) asserts that liquor impairs psychomotor function and therefore renders the driver impaired in a crisis situation. This impairment includes; vision (degraded), information processing (slowed), steering, and performing two tasks at once in congested traffic (Moskowitz & Burns, 1990). As BAC levels increase the risk of crashing and fatality increase exponentially (Department of Transport and Main Roads, 2009; DTMR). According to Compton et al. (2002) as cited in the Department of Transport and Main Roads (2009), crash risk based on probability, is five times higher when the BAC is 0.10 compared to a BAC of 0.00. The type of injury patterns sustained also tends to be more severe when liquor is involved, especially with injuries to the brain (Waller et al., 1986b). Single and Rohl (1997) reported that 30% of all fatal crashes in Australia where alcohol involvement was known were associated with Breadth Analysis Content (BAC) above the legal limit of 0.05gms/100ml. Alcohol related crashes therefore contributes to a third of the total cost of fatal crashes (i.e. $1 billion annually) and crashes where alcohol is involved are more likely to result in death or serious injury (ARRB Transport Research, 1999). It is a major concern that a drug capable of impairment such as is the most available and popular drug in Australia (Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 2007; AIHW). According to the AIHW (2007) 89.9% of the approximately 25,000 Australians over the age of 14 surveyed had consumed at some point in time, and 82.9% had consumed liquor in the previous year. This study found that 12.1% of individuals admitted to driving a motor vehicle whilst intoxicated. In general males consumed more liquor in all age groups. In Queensland there were 21503 road crashes in 2001, involving 324 fatalities and the largest contributing factor was alcohol and or drugs (Road Traffic Report, 2001). 23438 road crashes in 2004, involving 289 fatalities and the largest contributing factor was alcohol and or drugs (DTMR, 2009). Although a number of measures such as random breath testing have been effective in reducing the road toll (Watson, Fraine & Mitchell, 1995) the recidivist drink driver remains a serious problem. These findings were later supported with research by Leal, King, and Lewis (2006). This Queensland study found that of the 24661 drink drivers intercepted in 2004, 3679 (14.9%) were recidivists with multiple drink driving convictions in the previous three years covered (Leal et al., 2006). The legal definition of the term “recidivist” is consistent with the Transport Operations (Road Use Management) Act (1995) and is assigned to individuals who have been charged with multiple drink driving offences in the previous five years. In Australia relatively little attention has been given to prevention programs that target high-risk repeat drink drivers. However, over the last ten years a rehabilitation program specifically designed to reduce recidivism among repeat drink drivers has been operating in Queensland. The program, formally known as the “Under the Limit” drink driving rehabilitation program (UTL) was designed and implemented by the research team at the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety in Queensland with funding from the Federal Office of Road Safety and the Institute of Criminology (see Sheehan, Schonfeld & Davey, 1995). By 2009 over 8500 drink-drivering offenders had been referred to the program (Australian Institute of Crime, 2009).

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

213 since deposited on 11 May 2011
10 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 41648
Item Type: Report
Refereed: No
Additional URLs:
Keywords: alcohol and driving, alcohol intoxication, Department of Transport and Main Roads, road safety
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > PUBLIC HEALTH AND HEALTH SERVICES (111700)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Centre for Accident Research & Road Safety - Qld (CARRS-Q)
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Current > Schools > School of Psychology & Counselling
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 11 May 2011 22:22
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2011 07:40

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page