Young Australian drivers should have zero blood alcohol requirement which is included in the issuance of their driver's license until they turn 21 in a bid to cut road toll and accidents, an academic says.
Professor Wayne Hall of the Centre for Clinical Research at the University of Queensland said that this step would prevent the deaths and serious injuries of dozens of Australian young drivers which are recorded as alcohol-related crashes every year.
Prof Hall said that he had supported the move in some American states where it is illegal to drink until the age of 21 but, he admitted that this will be impossible in Australia.
That will be a huge change in policy, and will likely be resisted by young people and by the alcohol industry, and it probably wouldn't be well complied with, Prof Hall said.
That's why we are thinking of other ways to achieve the same goal, that's why we think that having a zero blood alcohol level for drivers of at least the age of 21 would be a good idea.
Some cases may go to 25 since that's the age at which young people are especially most likely to drink heavily and be involved in motor vehicle crashes.
US states in which the minimum legal drinking age is 21 have fever alcohol related vehicular accidents which involves young people than in those American states where 18 years olds can legally drink.
Prof Hall has estimated that if zero blood alcohol limits will be applied to young Australian drivers then 17 fewer deaths would have occurred in 2003 among those 18 to 21 years olds.
Imposing this requirement on drivers up to the age of 25 will prevent 50 deaths while rates of serious injuries will significantly be reduced.
You're looking at another 12 to 20 serious injuries for each death, so if this is made possible there's a lot of young people who will not be seriously damaged and spend lots of time and money in hospitals, Prof Hall said.
Victoria's licensing system has already set a minimum age of 22 in order to obtain a full license, but other states are generally less strict about when a young driver can legally have alcohol in their body system.
There's no need for additional enforcement costs since police are already random breath testing drivers, Prof Hall added.
The only additional thing to do is to check their age after they were breath tested.
Prof Hall also recommended that Australia should increase alcohol taxes and launch a new program to promote safer level of alcoholic consumption.
He made the call in a paper published in the latest edition of the Medical Journal of Australia.