Forget the Kool Mints – young drivers drunk and dangerous the morning after

January 13, 2011 (PRLEAP.COM) Business News
AAMI spokesperson Mike Sopinski said data released today from the tenth annual AAMI Young Drivers Index showed 46% of young drivers believed they may have been still over the legal limit when driving the morning after a night of heavy drinking risking heavy fines, criminal convictions and the safety of road users.

"It's a damning statistic. Many young drivers need to have a long hard think about alcohol and start making better personal choices before they jump behind the wheel," Mr Sopinski said.

The Index analysed the driving attitudes of people aged between18-24 years in relation to alcohol, drugs, speed, fatigue and technology usage.

"There are some big nights coming up for our young drivers," Mr Sopinski said. "We are hitting the most festive part of the year, with schoolies and university students out celebrating the end of the academic year as well as Christmas and New Years Eve.

"Many of these young drivers are P-platers and they're playing with fire there's so little room for error or misjudgement when you're a probationary licence holder. They are not only risking fines and licence suspension, but also potentially criminal convictions if they still have alcohol in their system after a night on the town."

With the exception of the ACT , all states and territories across Australia operate a zero alcohol policy for Probationary licence holders.
"There's no rule when it comes to how long it takes alcohol to leave your system; there are many factors that influence how quickly your body both absorbs and expels alcohol, including gender, age and body fat.

"In fact the only sure thing that works is time not a quick nap, not a cold shower, not a strong coffee and definitely not sucking on mints. If you rely on any of these mythical fixes, you put yourself, your passengers and everyone else on the roads at risk", Mr Sopinski warned.

Ten Years On

As part of its research, AAMI this year looked at the attitudes and behaviours of young drivers aged 18 24 over the past decade and while each year there are some positive changes, it seems to be a case of 'one step forward, two steps back' for young drivers.

- The drink driving message has had little impact, with 12% in 2010 still saying it's ok to drink and drive if they feel capable, down from 15% in 2001
- Mobile phone usage behind the wheel has rocketed by two-thirds, up from 30% in 2001, to 50% in 2010
- The number of young people who will pull over if they're tired has halved from 64% in 2001, to 38% in 2010
- Young people are now three times more likely to tailgate out of anger or frustration, up from 12% to 36%

The Numbers Don't Lie: Young Drivers Die

Professor Russell Gruen, Director of The Alfred's National Trauma Research Institute said that while some things have changed over the past decade one thing has not - young drivers are still over represented in fatality statistics.

"Every year, approximately 1500 people die, and at least 4000 are injured on Australian roads," Professor Gruen said.

"Injured drivers are most commonly male and under 24 years of age; of the 2471 admissions to our hospital for road related trauma between 2002 - 2009, 1767 were young men aged 18-24.

"Every injured young driver brings a painful reminder of the fragility of the human body, even when it's young, strong and seemingly immortal. "In a split second, a young person with a promising future can become a road toll statistic.

"AAMI's Young Drivers Index helps us to understand why young people are over-represented in road fatalities and serious injuries. We're always supportive of research that reveals the true nature of behaviour on our roads in the hope that it can lead to better targeted safety initiatives."

Other Key Findings:

- 50% of young drivers surveyed admit to using their mobile phones without a hands free kit while driving
- 11% of young drivers have read emails or surfed the web on their mobile device while driving
- 14% of young drivers think drug driving is safer than drink driving, down from 18% in 2001

AAMI is a national provider of car insurance, comprehensive car insurance and third party car insurance Australia.