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Drug Alcohol Rev. 1993;12(3):251-8.

The effect of random breath testing on perception of likelihood of apprehension and on illegal drink-driving.

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  • 1NHMRC Road Accident Research Unit, University of Adelaide, GPO Box 498, Adelaide, 5001, Australia.


This study examines the links between random breath testing (RBT), driver perception of the likelihood of apprehension if illegally drink-driving, and drink-driving behaviour in Adelaide, South Australia. It is based on information gained from surveys of night-time drivers in metropolitan Adelaide, during 1987, 1989 and 1991. Overall, about 25% of the sample in each year thought that illegal drink-driving was likely to result in apprehension. This perception was consistently lower for males and for those aged less than 30 years than for their counterparts, however, there was evidence that it increased with exposure to RBT, notably when that exposure was recent. Also, compared with other drivers, fewer drivers who thought that apprehension was likely had an illegal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) when surveyed, or reported that they would be likely to drive if they thought that they had an illegal BAC. However, the majority of drivers who thought that detection was unlikely also reported that they would be unlikely to drink-drive. These results suggest the need for some re-direction of current RBT activities.

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