In October 2019, DB set out to explore Kiwi attitudes and behaviours towards drinking and driving in a nationwide online survey of 500 drivers over 18. The study also aimed to set a benchmark for the number of people who drink any amount of alcohol and then drive, and identify insights into how advertising and communications can positively influence people’s driving behaviours.

The study found that 73% of registered drivers drink alcohol and that 20% of this group had driven within two hours of drinking alcohol in the 14 days prior to taking the survey. Most drinking drivers (54%) are moderate drinkers (1-3 drinks per week).

We also learned that most drivers (73%) who drink alcohol are confident that they understand the drink driving laws in New Zealand, however only 22% know the legal adult blood alcohol concentration (BAC) limit. This research shows that instead of thinking about blood alcohol content, people find it easier to consider the ‘number of drinks’ they are allowed before they get behind the wheel. The average driver feels they can safely drink 1.8 drinks and drive. ‘Drinking drivers’ on average believe they can safely drink 2.8 drinks and then drive. This is problematic because many factors contribute to an individual’s blood alcohol concentration level, so it’s impossible to base your choice to drive on the number of drinks you consume.

The study also showed that there is no such thing as a typical drink driver, and people who drink and then drive come from all age groups, income levels and ethnicities, and are equally likely to live in an urban, provincial or rural areas. They are more likely to be men, but four in ten drink drivers in the last 14 days were women (59% of ‘drinking drivers’ were men and 41% were women).

We plan to run the research regularly to build a picture over time of how New Zealand’s sentiment towards drinking and driving is changing and inform our marketing and communications around drink driving reduction.