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Trip home paved with peril

The Australian

Thursday 29 May 2003

Call for barriers: Mr Austin at the Hotel Mosman in Sydney.

Drew Warne-Smith

ALEX Austin has seen two pedestrians killed in the past year. At least one had been drinking; mowed down in traffic after emerging from a pub on Parramatta Road in Sydney's inner west.

"You expect people to have commonsense," said Mr Austin, a 22-year-old regular at Hotel Mosman on Sydney's lower north shore. "But not everyone has it, especially when they've been drinking.

"If a pub is on a main road, it should have barriers out the front, and the bouncers should look after people when they leave."

Pedestrian Council of Australia chairman Harold Scruby has called for greater local council and hotel responsibility - as well as the "spirit of mateship" - to ensure drunken pedestrians get home safely.

An Australian Transport Safety Bureau survey released on Tuesday found that two-thirds of all male pedestrians killed on our roads were intoxicated with alcohol or drugs. And most deaths were caused by pedestrians themselves, with just 8 per cent due to driver error.

"There is a very specific alcohol limit for motorists, but there is no limit for pedestrians, so it's difficult to blame them," Mr Scruby said.

"You can't do anything about a potential victim when he's intoxicated. He's not going to listen to any logic. We have to find other ways to stop them getting into trouble."

A spokesperson for the Australian Hotels Association urged all pedestrians to look after their own safety. "At the end of their day, it's their own responsibility," the spokesperson said.

Senator The Hon Ron Boswell
Parliamentary Secretary to the
Minister for Transport and Regional Services
27 May 2003


Two out of every three Australian road deaths among male pedestrians aged 15 to 54 are attributable to alcohol or other drugs, according to new research.

Commenting on a report prepared by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau, Transport Parliamentary Secretary Senator Ron Boswell said the public needed to know of the dangers of mixing alcohol and road use as a pedestrian.

"For every ten male pedestrians in the 15 to 54 age group who die on our roads, about seven are routinely found to have a blood alcohol concentration way above the legal driving limit," Senator Boswell said.

"Of even greater concern is the extreme nature of the intoxication commonly observed in blood tests on these deceased male pedestrians.

"Most of those who had been alcohol-affected are found to have had a blood alcohol concentration more than three times the legal driving limit," Senator Boswell said.

The report, based on three years of coronial records for deceased male pedestrians aged 15 to 54, found that:

The group contributed 38 per cent of all pedestrian fatalities on Australian roads, well above what would be expected from the group's size and its overall level of pedestrian activity.
About seven of every 10 of the deceased were found to have a blood alcohol concentration above the legal driving limit (0.05 gm/100 ml).
About five of every six of those that had been alcohol-affected were found to have had a blood alcohol concentration more than three times the legal driving limit.
Cannabis was indicated in almost 25 per cent of blood tests on deceased male pedestrians.
About 85 per cent of the fatal collisions occurred between 6pm and dawn, particularly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.
Heavy intoxication was reflected in the manner in which many of the deceased had come into fatal collision with a vehicle. In over 30 per cent of cases, the pedestrian had been simply standing or lying on the road rather than attempting a crossing.
Only about eight per cent of the deaths stemmed from risky road use on the part of the driver.
Although the majority of the deaths occurred within cities and towns, the number occurring on rural highways was much greater than would be expected from the population of those out-of-town areas.

"This report is a wake-up call," Senator Boswell said. "Pedestrians must get the message that they need to be as conscious as drivers of the dangers of mixing road use with alcohol.

"The message is simple - people must realise that they put themselves at grave risk on and around roads by becoming intoxicated."

The Australian Transport Safety Bureau's monograph Road fatalities involving male pedestrians aged 15 to 54 is available at www.atsb.gov.au/road/mgraph/mgraph14/index.cfm


Media Contacts
Leah Nicoll ( Senator Boswell's Office ) 07 3001 8150 / 0407 132 284