Dr Julie Lahausse and Professor Brian Fildes, from the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC), studied the likely impact of fitting all registered Australian vehicles with alcolocks on alcohol-related fatalities and serious injuries, as well as the cost-benefit ratio of such a strategy.
Taking into account alcohol-related crash statistics and a range of variables, including compliance and the type of alcolock device, the Monash researchers found between 6 and 24 per cent of all Australian road fatalities could be prevented.
The findings, published in Traffic Injury Prevention (10, 528-537), also showed that between 603 and 2414 serious injuries could be prevented per year with mandatory alcolocks.
Dr Lahausse said that although further research was needed, the study suggested there was a strong case for utilising alcolocks as a future crash prevention strategy.
“Our research definitely shows that installing these devices in all registered vehicles could be an effective way of saving lives on our roads. Each Summer holiday season we are confronted with grim road toll statistics, but this study shows that more can be done to bring the number of needless deaths and injuries down,” Dr Lahausse said.
“There are around 1500 road fatalities in Australia every year, and it has been estimated that 25 per cent of these accidents are alcohol-related. So it appears that other strategies, such as fines and licence disqualifications, are not doing enough on their own.”
Dr Lahausse said the financial burden on communities due to alcohol-related car accidents was significant, with the total community cost resulting from alcohol-related fatal and serious injuries estimated to be around $1.4 billion each year.
“Our research indicates that as well as saving lives and serious injuries, mandatory alcolocks could reduce these alcohol-related costs by between 24 and 95 per cent, depending on the device’s effectiveness in preventing alcohol-impaired driving.”
Legislation regarding alcolocks varies between states, but they are typically only installed in the vehicles of repeat drink-driving offenders. In Victoria, a range of alcolock measures were introduced in 2006, including mandatory installation of the devices for first-time drink driving offenders with blood alcohol concentration levels of 0.07 or higher, if aged under 26 or a probationary licence holder.
Monash University was ranked 45 in the world in the most recent QS Higher Education rankings. The University has campuses based around Melbourne, as well as regional Victoria, Malaysia and South Africa. Construction of a PhD-focused research academy in Mumbai, India is currently underway.
For more information call Dr Lahausse, Monash University Accident Research Centre, on +61 3 990 51904, or Jane Castles, Monash University Media and Communications, on +61 3 990 34842 or 0417 568 781.