As the Christmas period approaches, Queensland drivers know to expect a worrying spike in road fatalities and injury crashes. But what are we actually doing to combat this concerning trend?
This year there have already been 228 deaths caused by road accidents in Queensland, and 1 in 5 of those fatalities were caused by drink driving. In an attempt to reduce these overwhelming numbers, the holiday season brings with it a drastic increase of roadside Random Breath Testing (RBTs), road safety initiatives and graphic warnings about the dangers of driving while over the limit, but year after year they seem to fall on deaf ears.
Last year’s Christmas period between 23 December and 3 January saw 22 people tragically lose their lives on Queensland roads and 1,649 injury crashes. Queensland Police conducted 518,264 breath tests, and 3,208 of these returned a positive reading.
These numbers are alarming. In the words of Queensland Police Minister Bill Byrne, “The carnage that is unfortunately associated with driving at this time of year has to stop.”
The 2015-16 Crack Down
Minister Byrne together with Acting Minister for Main Roads and Road Safety Leeanne Enoch, Police Commissioner Ian Stewart and officers from Road Policing Command, have just launched the 2015 Christmas Road Safety Campaign – Dry Driver – in a newly focused attempt to curb state-wide drink driving related fatalities and injuries.
Recognising the importance of designated – ‘dry’ – drivers, the campaign emphasises that monitoring drinks to stay under the legal blood alcohol limit is not the safest or most reliable option this holiday season.
“Everyone processes alcohol differently, making it impossible to predict whether you’re under the legal limit or not,” Minister Enoch said. “Counting drinks is especially challenging with so many new products on the market with varying levels of alcohol and a range of serving sizes.
“It is just so simple to stay safe by designating a driver, arranging a lift, catching a cab or public transport, or staying at a mate’s house. We need to thank and appreciate every designated dry driver for their consideration, good sense and goodwill as they are the people, along with the police, who will be making our roads safer this festive season.”
Commissioner Stewart promised police will be highly visible throughout the holiday period during the state-wide operation, up until midnight on January 29, 2016.
“I’m always saddened with any loss of life or injury on our roads,” he said. “We will only stop these tragedies if all road users commit to obeying the road rules and drive to the conditions.”
You can find out more about the Road Safety Campaign at Join the Drive.
How You Can Do Your Part
We all need to get involved and play a part to reduce our road toll. Whether you’re a designated driver, making your place available for your friends to stay overnight, closely monitoring the amount you drink or taking care of your friends, we all have an important role to play.
Awareness is key here. Even though counting drinks is not the most reliable way of keeping your blood alcohol at a safe level, it will still be the way many people choose to go forward these holidays. So if you DO decide to drive, you need to have a good understanding of your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and its effects.
Thanks to today’s evolving technology, there are now a number of great apps and widgets available that can help you stay informed about your drinking choices and ultimately, keep you safe.
DrinkTracker ($1.99) helps keep you aware of how much you’ve been drinking, by letting you log your drinks and then estimating your BAC over time based on your user profile of your gender, age, height and weight. It gives you your estimated BAC in real-time, works with Maps to give you directions home and helps you reach contacts or call a taxi if you need a lift.
While not completely accurate, it provides a pretty good estimate. It’s a reasonably good way to get an idea of where you are on the scale – just remember to use it as a guide only, and err on the safe side.
Boozed? is a free iPhone widget that lets you input your drinks and get an instant estimated BAC reading, all without needing to unlock your phone. It’s quick and easy to add drinks as you go and captures the current time of each drink, eliminating the need to recall when and what you drank.
This widget isn’t designed for the purpose of driving, but shows you how each drink will affect you to help you make an informed decision about whether to have another drink or to sit the next round out.
Alcohoot is a 2-part app and unit which, when used together, turn your smartphone into a breathalyser. You simply plug the unit into your audio jack and blow into it, and the app gives you your BAC reading.
The unit is quite pricey at $100, but it’s far more accurate than its cheaper competitors and a worthy investment if it’s something you think you’d use often. The accompanying app is free on the App Store and Google Play.
So take advantage of the technology available to you this Christmas. Because more importantly than just keeping to the .05 legal limit, you also need to know how to drink responsibly and enjoyably.
Be safe, be aware, look out for your friends and enjoy the holiday season!