Best practice in random breath testing and cost-effective intensity levels

The European PEPPER study’s meta-analysis of 40 evaluations found that the largest crash reductions were achieved by Australian methods of random breath testing (RBT) compared with other countries. This paper aims to summarise the characteristics of Australian RBT that make it best practice. Extensive research has been conducted since RBT was first introduced in Victoria in July 1976 and subsequently in other States. Research linking the intensity of RBT with reductions in serious alcohol-related crashes is summarised in the paper. General deterrence through the perceived risk of detection is maximised by operations that appear to cover broad areas and both minor and major roads, achieve at least 20 hours per 100 square kilometres per week in urban areas, are highly visible and test a substantial proportion of passing motorists. Car-based RBT should be preferred in rural areas, covering also minor roads that may be used in evasion strategies, and bus-based RBT stations should only be operated in conjunction with car-based RBT placed on alternative roads. Diminishing-returns type relationships between the intensity of RBT and reductions in serious alcohol-related crashes have been calibrated. It was found that breath testing rates per licensed driver could be increased to at least 1.5 per year before cost-effectiveness is in doubt. RBT is remarkably effective in providing general deterrence of drink-driving and should be preferred over operations aimed principally at apprehending drink-drivers. Characteristics of RBT operations that maximise effectiveness have been identified. While labour-intensive, RBT is so effective that testing rates per licensed driver can be increased to high levels and still justify their cost by the savings in road trauma.


  • English

Media Info

  • Pagination: 144-51
  • Monograph Title: 20th International Conference on Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety Conference Proceedings, 25-28 August 2013, Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre, Brisbane, Australia

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01495652
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ITRD, ATRI
  • Created Date: Oct 17 2013 10:11AM