Exploratory Investigation of Aspects of Drink-driving and Enforcement in Rural Areas of Victoria

Monash University Accident Research Centre - Report #93 - 1996

Author: W. Harrison

Full report on .pdf format [1.7 MB]

Executive Summary

This report summarises the results of a survey of hotel patrons in four towns in rural areas of Victoria. The survey was originally conducted as part of an evaluation of the likely effects of the use of additional evidential breath testers by the Victoria Police in rural areas, but included items that were considered helpful in developing an increased understanding of the nature of drink-driving in rural areas and the effect of enforcement. It is argued that the drink-drive problem is likely to be different in rural areas and that there is a need to take the relevant differences into account when developing and targeting countermeasures.

A total of 94 hotel patrons were sampled from two hotels in each of the Victorian rural towns of Stawell, Horsham, Nagambie, and Wangaratta. The survey was conducted at the hotel premises and took about ten minutes to administer.

The analysis of the data was conducted under liberal statistical constraints due to the exploratory nature of the study. The results are, therefore, somewhat speculative and are best considered as pilot results that might be used to provide direction for further research in this area.

Key results of the study were:

  • There were substantial differences between the enforcement experiences of hotel patrons in the four towns that may impact on the effectiveness of drink-drive enforcement in Stawell in particular.
  • Almost half the respondents indicated that they would choose to drive home from the hotel by an alternative route if they knew about the location of a Booze-bus. 41% of respondents indicated they would change their behaviour in a more-appropriate direction under these circumstances.
  • Of 39 drivers judged to be near or over the legal maximum blood alcohol concentration, 9 indicated they would drive home or back to work.
  • Being stopped by the Police was a source of concern for half the respondents.
  • Recency of exposure to drink-drive enforcement was an important factor in maximising the effectiveness of drink-drive enforcement.
  • Drivers who lived further from the hotel seem to be an "at-risk" group.
  • Uncertainty of enforcement and the lack of driver control over the risk of detection were important factors for the effectiveness of drink-drive enforcement.

Given the speculative nature of these results, it is recommended that the key findings be used to give direction to a research program in the area of rural drink-driving. This program could profitably focus on the effects of uncertainty and recency, geographical factors, targetable sub-groups of rural residents, and the social factors that may reduce the level of drink-driving.

Sponsor: Transport Accident Commission