The part played by alcohol in traffic accidents is examined, and the literature as it relates to the effect of alcohol on driving skills reviewed. Finally, consideration is given to the part engineers can play in the reduction of alcohol involved accidents. A plea is made for co- ordination of research into alcohol and driving, and for the inclusion of adequate control data. Such data is, however, difficult to obtain when random testing is not permitted, as is the case in New Zealand, so it is not possible at this stage to obtain an accurate picture of the importance of alcohol in New Zealand traffic accidents. Alcohol involvement is greater in single vehicle accidents than it is in all accidents combined. Good research examining the effect of alcohol on the whole driving task is rare. Generally ony part functions such as reaction time or enuromuscular control are considered. Many then assume that a driver's reaction in traffic is just the sum of these part functions. This seems to over- simplify the situation. New Zealand accident statistics show that drivers who were affected by alcohol were also more likely than non-affected drivers to be travelling too fast for the conditions, failing to keep left, or drowsy and tired. They were, however, less likely to fail to give way. Alcohol adversely influences risk-taking behavior, concentration, tracking ability, reaction time, visual acuity, and field of view. Its importance in traffic accidents may be generally underestimated because of the absence of studies taking into consideration the effects of hangovers. Engineers are responsible for maintaining unformity in road design, and minimizing the rate at which decisions have to be made, so as to aid alcohol impaired drivers. They also need to ensure that road reserves are made as forgiving as possible for drivers who stray from the carriageway. /Author/

  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Presented to the New Zealand Roading Symposium, August 1975.
  • Corporate Authors:

    Ministry of Transport, New Zealand

    38-42 Waring Taylor Street, P.O. Box 3175
    Wellington,   New Zealand 
  • Authors:
    • Sanderson, J E
  • Publication Date: 1975

Media Info

  • Features: Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 13 p.

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00141711
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: National Safety Council Safety Research Info Serv
  • Report/Paper Numbers: TRR 14
  • Files: TRIS, ATRI
  • Created Date: Mar 30 1977 12:00AM