§ Mr. Sheerman
To ask the Secretary of State for Transport what information he has relating to New South Wales regarding(a) the percentage reduction in the average number of fatal crashes in the five years after the introduction of random breath testing, (b) the percentage reduction in the average number of alcohol-related fatal and serious accidents in the four years after the introduction of random breath testing and (c) the percentage reduction in the average number of drivers and riders killed over the legal limit in the four years after the introduction of random breath testing.
§ Mr. Peter Bottomley
Random breath testing was introduced in New South Wales in December 1982. It has18W been accompanied by a sustained publicity campaign and a high level of police enforcement activity which aims to test one in every three drivers per year.
Since 1982 the percentage of drivers killed while over the legal limit has fallen from 40 to 34 per cent. in 1986—a drop of 6 per cent.
Over the same period in this country, the decline has been from 36 to 25 per cent., a drop of 11 per cent—nearly double that of New South Wales.
Assessments of enforcement strategy in New South Wales and other Australian states where RBT is used frequently draw attention to the impact of high levels of police activity and publicity as important factors, as distinct from the actual method of enforcement.
Research carried out by the school of behavioural sciences, Macquarie university, and the traffic authority of New South Wales in 1988 gives the following information:
- (a) the number of fatal crashes fell by 22 per cent., from an average of 22.12 per week in the five years before the introduction of random breath testing to an average of 17.23 per week in the five years after;
- (b) the number of alcohol-related fatal and serious injury accidents fell from an average of 13.43 per week in the five years before to 8.67 in the four years after, a decline of 35 per cent.;
- (c) the average number of drivers and riders killed while over the legal limit dropped from 4–36 per week in the three years before RBT to 2–81 in the four years after, a fall of 36 per cent.
Simple comparisons and statistics may be misleading; for instance, the legal limit for blood alcohol content in New South Wales is 50 mg/ml and in this country it is 80 mg/ml.