Let's separate drinking from driving

NRMA Boost the Bus report
NRMA Boost the Bus report

Our new drink driving report has shown a decade-high spike in the percentage of drivers caught over the limit by random breath testing, with safety concerns raised in the Christmas party season.

Boost the Bus: RBT Every Driver is the seventh report in the NRMA’s Road Safety Series and highlights that of the almost three million random breath tests conducted in 2020, close to 0.5 per cent of drivers returned a positive result.

This is a significant increase from the 0.3 per cent positive rate in 2019 and the highest rate of positive returns since 2011.
NRMA drink driving report info

What's the issue?

The NRMA has played a lead role in addressing the dangers of drink driving over the last 40 years. The organisation lobbied successfully for the introduction of random breath testing in Australia and launched the nation’s first ever education campaigns against the dangers of drink driving.

In 2020, 54 people lost their lives in alcohol related crashes on NSW roads and 303 were injured. Almost three-quarters (72%) of alcohol-related fatalities were on country roads. Worryingly, fatal crashes involving alcohol increased to 19 per cent in 2020, from 16 per cent in 2016.

Boost the Bus showed that random breath tests conducted on the state’s roads fell by more than half (53%) to 2.8 million tests in a COVID-affected year. The report calls for testing rates next financial year to increase to 1.1 per licence on issue in NSW.   

Based on 2020 NSW licence numbers, over seven million tests would need to be conducted in order to achieve at least 1.1 tests per licence on issue which the NRMA believes is achievable in 2022.   

The report states that with adequate resourcing and appropriate funding the testing rate in NSW could be increased to at least 1.5 tests per licence on issue.  

What the NRMA wants

1. A short-term plan to increase RBTs conducted to at least 1.1 per licenced driver per year by the end of the 2022–2023 financial year.

2. Adequate planning and resourcing to ensure a long-term goal of at least 1.5 RBTs per year per licence on issue is achievable.

3. Appropriate funding and resourcing allocated to NSW Police in order to achieve at least 1.1 random breath tests per year across NSW.

4. Increased RBT of drivers must be supported by an education campaign to raise the awareness of the high risk of detection and associated penalties.

Fund more police and resourcing

RBTs are labour-intensive, yet highly effective in deterring and detecting drink driving. The NRMA welcomed the $41.5 million in this year’s NSW Budget for an additional 250 police officers in 2021-2022, as part of the NSW Government’s $583 million commitment to recruit 1500 police over four years. It is now critical that we see more of them dedicated to reducing the road toll.

Police resourcing should also be adequately distributed across the state, with particular attention to regional NSW given that 72 per cent of alcohol-related fatalities occurred on country roads.

Separate drinking from driving

The role education campaigns play in raising awareness of the dangers of drink driving and encouraging good behaviour is vital in reducing road trauma. While this has helped make drink driving largely unacceptable in our community, the risk in some areas is still prevalent and sadly growing.

The NRMA believes such educational campaigns should focus on:

  • High levels of enforcement and penalties;
  • Promoting the benefits of separating drinking and driving, and;
  • The dangers of driving over the limit the next day.

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So much more than roadside assistance, the NRMA is here to help Australians keep moving.