Charity urges rugby fans to kick drink-driving into touch

As the Wellington Sevens take place this weekend, road safety charity Brake is calling on rugby fans to help tackle the menace of drink-driving that can put themselves, their passengers and other road users at risk. Brake is appealing to everyone attending the tournament, or watching it in bars or at a mate's place to plan ahead to ensure they and their friends can get home safely, and pledge to stay completely off the booze if driving.

Drink-driving remains one of the biggest killers on our roads. In 2014 it was a factor in 62 fatal and over 1,000 injury crashes, killing 70 people and injuring over 1,500 [1]. Research shows that drinking any amount of alcohol can affect your driving [2].

Brake is encouraging people to take advantage of public transport as far as possible, and calling on those who are driving to pledge not to drink any alcohol. Friends and family are urged to speak out on the issue too and make sure that designated drivers stay sober to ensure everyone gets home safely after the event.

Caroline Perry, Brake's New Zealand Director says: "As a charity that provides support to families bereaved in crashes, we know the suffering that drink-driving inflicts, and appeal to everyone to help put a stop to it. Drink-driving deaths and injuries are cruel and needless, ending and ruining lives and leaving traumatised families to pick up the pieces. It's a fact that even a small amount of alcohol increases your risk of crashing.

"Events like this are about people having fun and enjoying watching the sport, so we want to make sure everyone also gets to and from it safely. The best way to be safe is to plan ahead and agree how you and your family and friends will get home safely. Designated drivers might be tempted to have a drink; we urge them to remember their responsibility for keeping themselves and others safe on the roads and pledge not to drink any amount of alcohol if driving."

Facts
Drivers with even 20-50mg alcohol per 100ml of blood are at least three times more likely to die in a crash than those with no alcohol in their blood [3]. This is because even small amounts of alcohol affect drivers' reaction times, judgment and co-ordination [4]. Alcohol also makes it impossible for drivers to assess their own impairment because it creates a false sense of confidence and means drivers are more inclined to take risks and believe they are in control when they are not [5].

Brake's advice

  • Even very small amounts of alcohol affect your reaction times and hazard perception, making you much more likely to crash, even if you don't feel drunk or even tipsy. The only way to ensure you're safe is to not drink any alcohol before driving, and never drive the morning after having more than one or two drinks.
  • As a passenger, only accept a lift with a driver who's had no alcohol at all.
  • Planning ahead to get home safely will help avoid getting into an awkward or risky situation, such as having to refuse a lift from a driver who has had alcohol. If you're getting a lift back from a BBQ, party or night out with someone, make sure they are 100% on board with not having any alcohol at all. Always have a plan B just in case a designated driver lets you down, or arrange from the outset to get a taxi or public transport instead.
  • Take responsibility for others: never buy a drink for someone who is driving, speak out to friends who plan to drink and drive, and if you're hosting a party help your guests to plan a safe way home before the party starts.

[1] Motor vehicle crashes in New Zealand 2014, Section 2: Casualties & crashes, Table 26A: Crashes and casualties where driver alcohol/drugs was a contributing factor, Ministry of Transport 2015 (accessed 17 Dec. 15)

[2] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011

[3] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

[4] The relationship between serious injury and blood alcohol concentration (BAC) in fatal motor vehicle accidents: BAC = 0.01% is associated with significantly more dangerous accidents than BAC = 0.00%, University of California at San Diego, 2011

[5] National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, 2010. Review of effectiveness of laws limiting blood alcohol concentration levels to reduce alcohol-related road injuries and deaths, London: National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

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