Estimation of Benefit-Cost Ratios for Coin-Operated Breath Testing

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #82 - 1995

Authors: N. Haworth & L. Bowland

Full report in .pdf format [4MB]


This study attempted to estimate the benefit-cost ratios (BCRS) for coin-operated breath testing equipment, in terms of direct crash reductions.

Patrons and licensees of premises with breath testing machines installed were interviewed. It was found that 16% of drivers who had intended driving home changed their minds after finding out that their BAC was greater than .05. At least an equal number of drivers decided to modify their subsequent drinking behaviour.

Most testers (and patrons as a whole) were under 30 years of age and male. However, males and females were equally likely to test themselves. Self-testers were more likely to be blue collar workers than those who did not test of their own initiative.

Targeting of those premises with the highest alcohol sales was found to be necessary for promotion of coin-operated breath testing to be cost-effective. A series of transport accident compensation and social BCRs were calculated according to usage rates. Higher BCRs were found for schemes targeting the 150 highest volume premises than the 400 highest. All social BCRs were greater than one, except with the lowest usage and highest expenditure. While the transport accident compensation BCRs were lower, most were greater than one.

These BCRs include the direct crash savings of not driving with a BAC greater than .05 and the indirect crash savings of driving at a lower BAC. The indirect crash savings of learning to better judge BAC in the long term may provide substantial additional benefits. Thus promotion of coin-operated breath testing is likely to be a viable drink driving countermeasure. Strategies are discussed to increase the proportion of patrons who use the machines and to increase the availability of the machines.

Sponsoring Organisation: Baseline Research Program - Department of Justice, Transport Accident Commission, Royal Automobile Club of Victoria (RACV) Ltd, VicRoads.