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Australia’s Sobering Alcohol Safety Trends in 2023

Australia’s Sobering Alcohol Safety Trends in 2023

2023 saw interesting and alarming alcohol safety patterns in Australia, including a study showing that Australians are now choosing wine over beer, a 2023 report finding that 1 in 10 drivers in New South Wales admitted to drink driving, and in December, a random breath test on a Melbourne Freeway found 1 in 73 tests to be positive for alcohol.

These increasing trends are a reflection of a lack of awareness on alcohol safety in Australia and, with the start of a new year, we are shedding light on this issue to help Australians enjoy a safer 2024.

Alcohol safety in New South Wales

As part of the November 2023 issue of the Road Safety Series by the National Roads and Motorists’ Association (NRMA), a shocking 12% of respondents from over 3,300 admitted to drinking and driving. Of the people that admitted to this highly unsafe practice, only 14% have been caught and 26% believe that they are highly unlikely or somewhat unlikely to get caught by police.

This prompted calls to increase the number of random breath tests (RBTs) conducted in the state, and Australia wide. RBTs have seen a significant decrease in recent years, with 3.8 million tests conducted in 2022, 36% fewer than those conducted in 2019.

This drink driving trend also saw 35 deaths on NSW roads as of 31 August 2023, just one death less than the total number in 2022.

READ MORE: Breathalysers to help curb NSW’s drink driving problem

Victoria’s alarming December drink driving find

Victoria Police's Assistant Commissioner of Road Policing, Glenn Weir, was “absolutely stunned that people are continuing to take such a high-level risk,”

His comment followed a testing operation held on the Monash Freeway in late November. The operation found one driver in every 73 failing the breathalyser test, more than three times the median strike of these operations (one in 250).

Authorities believe that there are many myths about alcohol safety that go around, one of them being that they would be safe to drive if they just had a couple of drinks or had a big meal to accompany drinking.

These striking test results were soon followed by an alarming statistic that saw 296 lives lost on Victorian roads in 2023.

This has led to the launch of a new campaign warning Victorians about these myths that would be plastered across social media, television, radio, and even billboards across the state.

Curbing the rise of alcohol-induced deaths in Australia

Perhaps the most alarming case of alcohol safety in Australia would be the increase in alcohol-induced deaths in the country which saw 160 more deaths than the previous year. The total count reported by the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) was 1,742.

This also marked the fourth year in a row that deaths have been on the rise. The leading cause of this was alcoholic liver disease which caused 1,046 deaths.

LEARN MORE: Exploring the rise in alcohol-induced deaths in Australia

Lack of alcohol education and awareness as a potential cause

From the reports gathered, it can be seen that a lack of awareness played a role in these cases, especially in the Victorian drink driving case and the increase in alcohol-induced deaths.

The study highlighted above tied much of the rise in alcohol-induced deaths in Australia to alcoholic liver diseases. The most impacted demographic was the 55-64 age group, followed by 45-54 and 65+.

A potential cause of the deaths in this age group could be due to the lack of knowledge that alcohol tolerance and liver function tend to be deteriorate as we age.

LEARN MORE: Alcohol use among senior citizens

Building awareness requires initiatives and resources to be made available through public and private organisations, including government agencies, news sources, and subject matter experts.

Hopefully, this information would also spur Australians to make better decisions when on the road. The Transport Accident Commission recently launched their latest ad campaign, ‘Stop Kidding Yourself. If you drink, don’t drive’ to help remove the guesswork when estimating how intoxicated one gets, and reducing the risks associated with drinking and driving.

Australia’s Sobering Alcohol Safety Trends in 2023

This campaign and the need to raise awareness could not come at a better time as 2023 marked Victoria’s deadliest year on the road since 2008, as nearly 300 lives were lost in the calendar year, 23% more than the previous year.

Breathalysers for informed decisions and safe drinking

Breathalysers are used at RBTs to detect those that have violated drink driving laws. However, the true potential of this simple device is yet to be realised. Affordable and accessible breathalysers help drivers accurately estimate their intoxication levels through a single breath sample.

Australian drink driving laws penalise drivers that record a BAC of .05 and above. Although it is never a good idea to drive after consuming any alcohol, ensuring your BAC level is under the legal limit could help you remain safe, avoid hefty fines, licence disqualifications, and other penalties.

Browse through Andatech’s wide range of personal breathalysers, including portable smartphone breathalysers that allow users to record BAC data with proof of testing to help create safer Australian roads.