CARRS-Q researcher Hollie Wilson
As part of a study to look at ways of reducing drink driving, PhD researcher Hollie Wilson, from QUT’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland (CARRS-Q), surveyed more than 200 first-time convicted drink drivers after they appeared in the Magistrates Court.
“Most of these convicted drink drivers admitted to driving over the limit previously, and a quarter of them said that they believed that everybody drinks and drives once in a while,” Ms Wilson said.
She said while the majority of first offenders stated that they did not intend to drink drive following their first court appearance, in a follow up interview six months later with half of the offenders originally interviewed, 27 per cent admitted to driving over the limit since they appeared in court.
“Twelve months after we originally interviewed the offenders, we checked the traffic records of 137 and found 7.3 per cent had recorded another drink driving conviction,” she said.
“This is a large percentage of offenders who re-offend in a short time period and even more who drink and drive without being caught.
“This highlights the importance of taking a preventive approach with first-time convicted drink drivers to decrease the likelihood that they will go on to offend again.”
Ms Wilson said that the findings of the study would be used to design a computer-based intervention program to reduce the re-offending rates of drink drivers.
“What we know about first time offenders is that they tend to be male, under 35 and the majority hold an open licence,” she said.
“Drink driving is more prevalent on weekends and about half of the participants recorded their last place of drinking as being in a pub or club.
“Offenders also have limited knowledge about standard drinks and the metabolism of alcohol in relation to their blood alcohol content.”
She said when interviewed, these offenders strongly disapproved of drink driving and although “they had very positive attitudes towards using strategies to avoid drink driving in the future, they seemed to be unable to plan as to how they would do this.”
“Consistently most first-time caught drink drivers supported the introduction of a compulsory drink driving intervention program,” she said
Ms Wilson said the findings from the study indicated a prevention program needed to focus on:
- increasing knowledge about alcohol and drink driving information levels
- strengthening and supporting anti-drink driving attitudes
- increasing the likelihood of using alternative strategies to drink driving
- challenging the high levels of drinking reported by most offenders
- finding ways to help offenders to reduce their alcohol consumption levels
“The findings of this study have lead to the conclusion that it would be prudent to develop and deliver an effective and brief intervention program for first time drink driving offenders,” she said.
“Potentially it would reduce the number of repeat drink drivers on our roads by increasing their knowledge of the effects of alcohol and increasing the chances that they will use alternatives to avoid drink driving.
“Secondly it would have public health benefits if it could encourage reduction of alcohol use and provide referral advice for treatment for those who need it.”
Ms Wilson is a member of QUT’s Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation.
Sandra Hutchinson, QUT media officer (Tue/Wed), 07 3138 2999 or [email protected]
Ian Eckersley, QUT media manager, 07 3138 2361 or [email protected]
** A high res photo of Hollie Wilson is available for media use