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Bundesanstalt für Strabenwesen, Bruderstr 53, D-5060 Bergisch Gladbach 1, Germany
In the period from 1975 to 1990 in the Federal Republic of Germany (West) alcohol related injuries and fatalities in road traffic decreased continuously:
Time series of alcohol-related road accidents with injuries versus road accidents with injuries in the period from 1975 - 1990 in West Germany, and in 1991 in West and East Germany
|road accidents with injuries||337 732||379 235||327 745||340 043||385 147||395 462||385 384|
|alcohol-related road accidents with injuries||48 346||49 210||35 775||32 814||41 603||40 823||40 998|
|share of alcohol-related road accidents with injuries||14 %||13 %||11 %||10 %||11 %||10,3 %||10,6 %|
Time series of alcohol-related injuries in road accidents versus injuries in road accidents in the period from 1975 - 1990 in West Germany, and in 1991 in West and East Germany
|injuries in road accidents||472 667||513 504||430 495||456 064||516 835||527 428||515 540|
|alcohol-related injuries in road accidents||72 444||71 353||49 764||45 936||58 609||57 132||57 112|
|share of alcohol-related in road accidents||15 %||14 %||11 %||10 %||11 %||10,8 %||11 %|
Time series of alcohol-related fatalities in road accidents versus fatalities in road accidents from 1975 - 1990 in West Germany, and 1991 in West and East Germany
|fatalities in road accidents||14 870||13 041||8 400||7 906||11 300||10 631||9 949|
|fatalities in alcohol-related road accidents||3 318||2 919||1 719||1 414||2 229||2 102||2 048|
|share of alcohol-related road accidents||22 %||22 %||20 %||18 %||20 %||19,8 %||20,5 %|
In 1973, the critical BAC-limit of 0,8 permille was introduced as on offence which by statutory definition carries a fine (§ 24a Road Traffic, Act, StVG). In this year 83 of 1 000 injured vehicle drivers and 60 of 1 000 injured pedestrians were intoxicated by alcohol [Statistisches Bundesamt, 1991]. Since this time the figure decreased until 1990 to 50 intoxicated of 1 000 injured drivers and increased on the other hand to 69 per 1 000 injured pedestrians.
In the German Democratic Republic up to 1989, the trend of the development of alcohol-related accidents was similarly favourable: compared with 1980, 14% less alcohol-related accidents were counted in 1989 and 25% less fatalities in alcohol-related accidents, where as the number of casuality accidents not involving alcohol even rose by 3% in that time. The number of fatalities also decreased, but, with 8%, the decrease was clearly lower than in the alcohol-related accidents [Kretschmer-Bäumel] (The year of 1990, in which the number of alcohol-related accidents and accident fatalities rose considerably in the GDR, cannot be used for comparison purposes because of the opening up of the borders and the atypical traffic conditions associated therewith).
The relation between alcohol related accidents with injuries and non-alcohol related accidents with injuries was three years before the unification (1986 to 1989) nearly the same as in West Germany (10%). The relation between alcohol related fatalities and fatalities in road accidents also was similar (FRG 18%; GDR 17%).
These figures are very surprising considering the different legal BAC limits in both former German states (FRG: 80 mg/100 ml; GDR: 0 mg/100 ml) and the different police enforcement strategies. Since January 1993 in all parts of Germany the same BAC-limit of 80 mg/100 ml is legal.
But the road accidents increased dramatically in the New Länder (fromer GDR) after the unification. Especially the alcohol related road accidents with injuries increased 72 percent from 1989 to 1990, and in comparison the road accidents with injuries 44 percent.
In the new countries and in Berlin-Ost the number of alcohol related accidents increased from 1990 to 1993 dramatically as well as the alcohol related injuries. This increase was greater than the increase in the accident figures in general. The share of alcohol related accidents increased from 9% in 1975 to 16% in 1993 and the number of injured persons in these accidents raised from 8% to 17%.
In the period from 1975 to 1990 there can be seen a favourable and continuous drop of alcohol related road accidents in Germany. This relatively favourable development among alcohol-related accidents is accompanied by a slight drop in alcohol consumption: 11,8 l pure alcohol per capita was consumed in 1990-compared to 1980, a decrease of 10%. In addition, a steady increase in soft drinks was found: from 405,2 l in 1980 to 513,0 l in 1990, i. e. an increase by 26,6% [Kretschmer-Bäumel].
Since the unification in 1990 in the New Länder the road accident development in general and especially concerning alcohol related accidents impaired. The recent figures for 1992, which are still not officially proofed, show a stabilisation and slight improvement of the road accident development in the New Länder.
In this situation once more the effectiviness of police controls, legislative and educational measures and above all their interaction should be considered. Alcohol as a drug has been known for thousands of years and intensively consumed for centuries. The motor vehicle has been in use for about one hundred years, and on a wider-spread basis only about forty years. In Germany it has seriously affected the lifestyles of not more than two generations. The process of social reorientation to change dominant attitudes and to practice new behaviour modes of drinking-driving control will presumably be long and difficult.
In view of the complicated structure of social control, a solution to the problem may be found by concentrating on primary prevention. Most drivers (up to 95 percent) today probably remain below the legal BAC limit of 80 mg/100 ml [Stephan, 1989; Müller, 1993]. A denser network of police controls would probably not increase the "yield" of undetected offenders much beyond the present level - according to surveys not higher than to 2 percent [Kerner, 1985].
Present efforts in the Federal Republic of Germany toward a more systematic integration of driver improvement programs into the existing legal and administrative framework seem to provide a more promising route to traffic safety in the medium term than do demands for radical changes in sanctions [Winkler, Kroj, 1993]. Driver improvement programs can already be considered as making an important and irreplaceable contribution to road safety in the Federal Republic of Germany. However, they cannot be seen as a substitute for legal sanctions and measures.
Kerner, H.-J. Gesetzgebung, polizeiliche Überwachung und Strafgerichtsbarkeit in der Bundesrepublik Deutschland. H. 115 Forschungsberichte der BASt, Bereich Unfallforschung, Bergisch Gladbach, 1985.
Kretschmer-Bäumel, E. Drinking and Driving in Germany: Behavioural Patterns and Influencing Factors-- a temporal and cross-cultural comparison. Proceedings "Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety-T'92", Vol. 2., Verlag TÜV Rheinland, Köln, 1993, 1011-1016.
Kroj, G. Rehabilitation of drunken drivers in the Federal Republic of Germany. Proceedings "Alcohol, Drugs and Traffic Safety - T'92", Vol. 1, Verlag TÜV Rheinland, Köln, 1993, 378-384.
Müller, A. Fahrerlaubnisentzug, Eignungsbegutachtung, Nachschulung und Therapie bei Trunkenheitstätern. In: Blutalkohol Vol. 30 No. 2, 1993, 65-95.
Statistisches Bundesamt Alkoholunfälle im Straßenverkehr 1990, Auszug aus Fachserie 8, Reihe 7 "Straßenverkehrsunfälle", Wiesbaden, 1991.
Statistisches Bundesamt Fachserie 8, Reihe 7 "Straßenverkehrsunfälle 1985-1990", Wiesbaden, 1992.
Stephan, E. Wirksamkeit der Nachschulungskurse bei erstmals alkoholauffälligen Kraftfahrern. H. 170 Forschungsberichte der BASt, Bereich Unfallforschung, Bergisch Gladbach, 1988.
Winkler, W., Jakobshagen, W., Nickel, W.-R. Rückfälligkeit von Teilnehmern an Kursen für wiederholt alkoholauffällige Kraftfahrer nach fünf Jahren. H. 224 Forschungsberichte der BASt, Bereich Unfallforschung, Bergisch Gladbach, 1991.