Keep roads safe - breath test pedestrians
By Miles Kemp
May 05, 2010
* Study pushes 0.15 limit for pedestrians
* Drunk walkers cost insurers $50m a year
* Public opinion turning against street drunks
RANDOM breath testing of pedestrians would be the most effective way to stop them being killed and maimed on the roads, a study has found. The University of Adelaide study found the public could support a blood alcohol limit of 0.15 when near roads and vehicles.
Researchers studied ways of reducing the road toll and found that all were "limited" in their success except for enforcement of a blood alcohol level in people walking near traffic, The Advertiser reported.
Commissioned by the Motor Accident Commission, the research was published in this month's Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine.
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The study's author, Paul Hutchinson, said the measure would be very controversial to implement but public opinion was already turning against displays of public drunkenness and a blood alcohol limit of 0.15 could be accepted.
"Public opinion does change over time and people don't like drunks rolling about the streets and 0.15 is an alcohol content that most people would not reach, certainly in public," he said.
"As one public health advocate put it, we have a blood alcohol limit for driving, why not for people walking next to traffic. People already have the power to take into protective custody drunk people who are a danger to their or others' safety."
Between 2003 and 2007, 53 of the 58 adult pedestrian deaths in South Australia involved people who had been drinking, and half of the 1560 given hospital treatment had also been drinking.
A spokesman for Motor Accident Commission said that "drunk walkers" were a serious problem that cost the organisation $50 million each year in claims.
The University of Adelaide study also proposed less effective changes, including:
- RESPONSIBILITY taken by licensed venues for death or injury to drunk patrons on the road.
- MASS media campaigns such as those used to discourage drink driving.
- BETTER public transport near pubs and clubs.
- BUS services operated by licensed venues.
- PEDESTRIAN safety roadworks where accidents often happen.