26 January 2022 In Drinking & Driving
BACKGROUND: Worldwide, alcohol-related road traffic accidents represent a major avoidable health risk. The aim of this study was to evaluate the accuracy of self-estimating the degree of acute alcohol intoxication regarding the legal driving limit, and to identify risk factors for misjudgement. METHODS: In this prospective randomised controlled crossover trial, 90 social drinkers (mean age 23.9 +/- 3.5 years, 50% female) consumed either beer or wine. Study group subjects were made aware when exceeding the legal driving limit (BrAC = 0.05%). Controls received no information about their BrAC. For crossover, beer or wine were consumed in the opposite order. RESULTS: 39-53% of all participants exceeded the legal driving limit whilst under the impression to be still permitted to drive. Self-estimation was significantly more accurate on study day 2 (p = 0.009). Increasing BrAC positively correlated with self-estimation inaccuracy, which was reproducible during crossover. Multiple regression analysis revealed fast drinking and higher alcohol levels as independent risk factors for inaccurate self-estimation. CONCLUSIONS: Social drinkers are commonly unaware of exceeding the legal driving limit when consuming alcohol. Self-estimating alcohol intoxication can be improved through awareness. Dedicated awareness programs, social media campaigns and government advice communications should be utilised to address this avoidable hazard. Trial registration The trial was registered prospectively at the Witten/Herdecke University Ethics Committee (trial registration number 140/2016 on 04/11/2016) and at the DRKS-German Clinical Trials Register (trial registration number DRKS00015285 on 08/22/2018-Retrospectively registered). Trial protocol can be accessed online.
22 February 2019 In Drinking & Driving

BACKGROUND: Drink driving is an important risk factor for road traffic accidents (RTAs), which cause high levels of morbidity and mortality globally. Lowering the permitted blood alcohol concentration (BAC) for drivers is a common public health intervention that is enacted in countries and jurisdictions across the world. In Scotland, on Dec 5, 2014, the BAC limit for drivers was reduced from 0.08 g/dL to 0.05 g/dL. We therefore aimed to evaluate the effects of this change on RTAs and alcohol consumption.

METHODS: In this natural experiment, we used an observational, comparative interrupted time-series design by use of data on RTAs and alcohol consumption in Scotland (the interventional group) and England and Wales (the control group). We obtained weekly counts of RTAs from police accident records and we estimated weekly off-trade (eg, in supermarkets and convenience stores) and 4-weekly on-trade (eg, in bars and restaurants) alcohol consumption from market research data. We also used data from automated traffic counters as denominators to calculate RTA rates. We estimated the effect of the intervention on RTAs by use of negative binomial panel regression and on alcohol consumption outcomes by use of seasonal autoregressive integrated moving average models. Our primary outcome was weekly rates of RTAs in Scotland, England, and Wales. This study is registered with ISRCTN, number ISRCTN38602189.

FINDINGS: We assessed the weekly rate of RTAs and alcohol consumption between Jan 1, 2013, and Dec 31, 2016, before and after the BAC limit came into effect on Dec 5, 2014. After the reduction in BAC limits for drivers in Scotland, we found no significant change in weekly RTA rates after adjustment for seasonality and underlying temporal trend (rate ratio 1.01, 95% CI 0.94-1.08; p=0.77) or after adjustment for seasonality, the underlying temporal trend, and the driver characteristics of age, sex, and socioeconomic deprivation (1.00, 0.96-1.06; p=0.73). Relative to RTAs in England and Wales, where the reduction in BAC limit for drivers did not occur, we found a 7% increase in weekly RTA rates in Scotland after this reduction in BAC limit for drivers (1.07, 1.02-1.13; p=0.007 in the fully-adjusted model). Similar findings were observed for serious or fatal RTAs and single-vehicle night-time RTAs. The change in legislation in Scotland was associated with no change in alcohol consumption, measured by per-capita off-trade sales (-0.3%, -1.7 to 1.1; p=0.71), but a 0.7% decrease in alcohol consumption measured by per-capita on-trade sales (-0.7%, -0.8 to -0.5; p<0.0001).

INTERPRETATION: Lowering the driving BAC limit to 0.05 g/dL from 0.08 g/dL in Scotland was not associated with a reduction in RTAs, but this change was associated with a small reduction in per-capita alcohol consumption from on-trade alcohol sales. One plausible explanation is that the legislative change was not suitably enforced-for example with random breath testing measures. Our findings suggest that changing the legal BAC limit for drivers in isolation does not improve RTA outcomes. These findings have significant policy implications internationally as several countries and jurisdictions consider a similar reduction in the BAC limit for drivers.

FUNDING: National Institute for Health Research Public Health Research Programme.


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