Page last updated:February 17, 2014

Global Status Report On Road Safety 2013

The World Health Organisation has produced a report on road safety. In 2010 the governments of the world declared 2011–2020 as the Decade of Action for Road Safety. They invited the World Health Organisation to prepare the report. The ‘Global Status Report On Road Safety 2013’ serves as a baseline to assess the state of global road safety at the onset of the decade, and to be able to monitor progress over the period of the Decade.

The report key findings are as follows:

Drink–drive laws should be based on blood alcohol concentration levels

Drinking and driving increases the risk of being involved in a crash, as well as the severity of

resulting injuries.

Driving starts to be impaired at very low levels of alcohol consumption, with the risk of crash involvement growing rapidly as consumption increases.  The vast majority of adult drivers are affected or impaired with a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of 0.05 g/dl, while at a BAC level of 0.1 g/dl the crash risk is approximately five times higher than that of someone with a BAC level of zero. Young and novice drivers who drink and drive have a greatly increased risk of a crash compared to more experienced drivers. The effects of alcohol impairment are magnified when combined with fatigue. This explains why alcohol is considered a particular risk for commercial drivers, who spend long hours on the road and also have legal responsibilities for the passengers or cargo they carry.

Strong drink–drive laws protect almost 70% of world’s population

A variety of BAC limits are in place across the world. Setting and enforcing legislation on BAC limits of 0.05 g/dl can lead to significant reductions in alcohol related crashes. Since 2008, there has been progress in strengthening drink– driving legislation: 89 countries, covering 66% of the world’s population (4.55 billion people), now have a comprehensive drink–driving law, defined as a BAC limit of 0.05 g/dl or less, which is in line with best. High-income countries are more

likely to have a legal BAC limit of 0.05 g/dl or less than are middle- or low-income countries (49% and 21%, respectively). Even in the 17 countries where alcohol consumption is legally prohibited, a drink–driving law based on a BAC of less than or equal to 0.05 g/dl is recommended, and is already in place in a number of countries, such as Mali, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. Nonetheless, there remains a need for more action in this area: 34 of the world’s countries

either have no drink–driving law at all, or implement a law based on measures that are less robust than BAC (such as assessing a person’s level of intoxication, using clinical signs and symptoms).

More stringent drink–drive laws for high-risk drivers

Inexperienced young adults driving with a BAC level of 0.05 g/dl are more than twice as likely to have a road traffic crash than are more experienced drivers, while commercial drivers are also considered a high risk group for alcohol related crashes. Setting lower BAC limits (0.02 g/dl or less) for both groups is an effective means of reducing crashes related to drink– driving: 42 countries (23%) apply BAC limits of 0.02 g/dl or less among young and novice drivers, while

the figure for commercial drivers is slightly higher, at 27%. High-income countries are more likely to have these laws in place than are low- or middle-income countries.

Drink–drive laws need stronger enforcement

Enforcement of drink–driving laws has been shown to be more effective when it includes random breath tests for all drivers (not just those suspected of drinking), and when it is carried out at times and in locations when drink–driving is more likely to occur.

Such measures that increase drivers’ perception of the likelihood of being apprehended are key to the success of this intervention. Random breath testing is used by 74% of the world’s countries to help enforce drink–driving laws, but this figure varies with country income status, with 88% of highincome, 77% of middle-income, and 45% of low-income countries adopting this practice. Despite global progress in strengthening drink–driving legislation, only 39 countries rate their enforcement as “good” (8 or above on a scale of 0 to 10), indicating that better implementation of these laws needs urgent attention.

Almost half of all countries lack data on alcohol related road traffic deaths

Assessing the contribution of drink–driving to road traffic crashes in a country is an important tool in designing and targeting drink–driving prevention work. However, in many countries this information is unavailable or unreliable. Where data are collected, different methodologies are used. For example, some countries test all drivers killed in a road traffic crash for blood alcohol, while others test a sample from particular hospitals which may include those both injured and killed. These variations can both distort alcohol related figures and make comparing this information across countries problematic. Testing all fatally injured drivers for blood alcohol

levels is considered best practice, but this occurs in only 73 countries. Just 52% of countries surveyed could provide some data on alcohol-related fatal road crashes.

All text and images © 2003 Alcohol In Moderation.