Page last updated: September 21, 2011

Study on alcohol-related accidents confirms danger of travelling in a drink driver’s car

A study on alcohol-related accidents led by Esko Keskinen, Emeritus Professor of Traffic Psychology at Turku University in Finland demonstrates the danger for those who travel in the drink driver’s car.
The study investigated the special characteristics of fatal motor vehicle accidents that occurred while under the influence of alcohol. Material gathered by the road accident investigation teams in Finland between 1999–2008 was used as a basis for the study, which was commissioned by the Traffic Safety Committee of Insurance Companies.
In Finland, one in four fatal accidents is caused by a drink driver and in 92% of cases, those killed in alcohol-related accidents were the drink driver him/herself or a passenger in the car.
In head-on collisions, 84% of fatalities were in the vehicle of the drink driver and 16% in the collision partner’s vehicle. There were very few pedestrian or cyclist fatalities in alcohol-related accidents.
According to Esko Keskinen, drink drivers who have a fatal road accident as a group have multiple problems, with heavy drinking being the key problem and drink driving following from there. Therefore, primary attention should be focused on the treatment of the alcohol problem, he argues.
Other findings include:
The non-use of seatbelts is common in the fatal accidents of drink drivers and their passengers. Speeding by the drink driver was a typical feature in these accidents, and this was particularly highlighted in single-vehicle accidents.
Drivers and passengers who collided with a drink driver had an increased chance of survival if they were wearing a seatbelt and driving within the speed limits.
85% of the drink drivers who caused a fatal accident exceeded BAC of 0.12.
The average drink drivers’ age is rising: last year half of the drink drivers were over the age of 40.
The researchers have come to the conclusion that vehicles with higher impact safety would increase the survival rates of the drink driver and those travelling in the collision partner’s vehicle. Other road safety promotion measures, such as alcohol ignition locks, would also have similar benefits.

 The report is available from

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