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Drinking and driving

Drinking and driving is one of the main causes of road crashes worldwide. It is an important factor influencing both the risk of a road crash as well as the severity of the resulting injuries. Drivers who have been drinking have a much higher risk of involvement in crashes than those with no alcohol in their blood, and this risk increases greatly with increasing blood alcohol content.

In some low- and middle-income countries up to 70% of fatally injured drivers have excess alcohol in their blood. An alcohol-impaired driver has 17 times the risk of being involved in a fatal crash than an unimpaired driver. Impaired pedestrians are also a danger to themselves and other road users.

Effective anti-drinking and driving programmes were identified in UN Resolutions on road safety and the World Report on Road Traffic Injury Prevention. It published the road safety manual on drinking and drivingwhich contains advice for how to assess the problem in a country, why to start an anti-drinking and driving programme, how to plan and implement it, how to evaluate it and how to undertake public education and awareness campaigns. The manual features case studies illustrating good practice of these programmes around the world.

The Road Safety Manual for Decision-makers and Practitioners proposes simple, effective and low-cost solutions to prevent drinking and driving that can be implemented on a national or local level. The manual has been developed and published as part of the work of the UN Road Safety Collaboration by WHO, the World Bank, FIA Foundation and Global Road Safety Partnership, backing up the World report. It includes guidance on the following:

  • The background evidence to start a drinking and driving programme
  • The steps needed to undertake a problem assessment in a country
  • How to plan and implement a programme, including setting up a working group, developing an action plan, examples of laws and enforcement, and how to develop public education and publicity campaigns
  • How to evaluate the programme

The key principles and practical steps that this manual presents can easily be adapted and made relevant to different contexts around the world. The modular structure of the manual means it can be read and easily adapted to suit the problems and needs of individual countries.