Drink driving/ riding is a primary cause of road deaths in Australia. In NSW, alcohol was involved in 19% of all fatal vehicle crashes and 13% of fatal motorcycle crashes between 2003-2007.
Most riders are aware that drinking any alcohol and riding is dangerous simply because riding requires a high level of focussed attention, awareness and judgement.
Licensed riders are less likely than drivers of other vehicles, to have an illegal alcohol level (3% vs 4%) when involved in a crash.
Unlicensed riders do appear to be far more likely to ride when they have been drinking. Although they represent just 8% of all riders who crashed, unlicenced riders account for 38% of all those with illegal blood alcohol.
A study by the Federal Office of Road Safety (now ATSB) in 1999 found that the risk of fatality for responsible motorcyclists was 5.25 per 100 million km travelled, but this more than doubled to 11.24 if high risk riders (drunk and/ or unlicensed) were included. They found that the number of responsible motorcyclist’s deaths has decreased steadily since 1988, where as the number of high risk rider deaths now comprise a greater proportion of all motorcycle fatalities (ATSB Monograph 27, 1999).
- In 1997 researchers in Victoria examined 222 motorcycle crashes. They found that 13% of the riders had an illegal alcohol level, 6% had used marijuana or other illicit drugs and 11% had used prescription drugs in the past 12 hours (Haworth, 1997).