2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 15:44
Fewer and fewer people in Germany are killed by alcohol in road traffic. However, the experts are concerned about developments in connection with illegal intoxicants.
At first glance, the news is surprising: "Basically, the number of accidents under the influence of alcohol is declining," explains Erwin Grosse from the Association against Alcohol and Drugs in Road Traffic (BADS) in Hamburg. "With regard to drug use behind the wheel, it can be said that the number of drivers caught and the number of accidents is increasing." But while one of them sounds like the all-clear and the other like imminent danger, the pure numbers show a different picture - because in the negative statistics, the problem of alcohol still has a considerable lead.
Around 50 deaths each year from drug accidents
But at least: there has been a drop of around a third in alcohol accidents with personal injury in the past ten years. As Sven Rademacher, spokesman for the German Road Safety Council (DVR) reports in Bonn, there were still 34,468 alcohol accidents in 1996 in which people were injured. In 2000 there were 27,375, in 2005 the number fell further to 22,004.
But while progress is being made with alcohol-related accidents, on the other hand the number of drug accidents is increasing - albeit at a lower level: «According to statistics, in 1995 there were 607 accidents under the influence of so-called other intoxicating substances in which people were harmed », says Sven Rademacher. In figures, this means: In 2000, one of the drivers was found to have used drugs in 1,015 accidents. In 2004 the number reached its highest level of 1521 and then fell again in 2005 to 1,373.
The numbers of those killed developed accordingly: According to statistics, 17 people died in accidents under the influence of drugs in 1995, 55 in 2000 and 51 in 2005. In 1996, accidents under the influence of alcohol led to 1472 fatalities, compared with 603 in 2005.
Drug detection is still uncharted territory
However, the experts do not agree on what triggered the developments: "The fact that the number of drivers under the influence of drugs is increasing ultimately only means that more people were caught during the controls," says Bastian Roet, traffic sociologist at the Automobile Club of Germany (AvD). Because while alcohol control has long been part of the standard range of the police, the prosecution of drug offenses in road traffic is still uncharted territory - even if you learned about it very quickly.
"When it comes to drug controls, you have to rely on the police officers being well trained in this area," explains Erwin Grosse. This is actually the case more and more often, so that corresponding offenses are also found more frequently. The background to this is, on the one hand, the “early detection of the pupils” - in other words, the ability to perceive something suspicious in the driver's pupils with regard to the influence of drugs. On the other hand, test devices that can quickly determine corresponding values are also increasingly being used.
In the opinion of the experts, the unanswered question is whether the number of journeys under the influence of drugs is actually increasing, or whether the better control methods merely reveal such traffic offenders more often. With alcohol, on the other hand, it is easier to understand the development. “When the limit of 0.8 per mille applied, it was clear to everyone that they could drink a few glasses. At 0.5 per mil, on the other hand, the risk of exceeding the limit is greater,”says Erwin Grosse. "But a limit of 0.0 per thousand would be ideal - then there would be no detection difficulties."
'Safe' regions for alcohol drivers
The experts agree on one point: "In general, alcohol and drugs have no place in traffic," summarizes Bastian Roet. The question, however, is whether stronger and better controls are the best way forward. "People's understanding is just as important." It is therefore important to continue to educate drivers about the dangers of drugs and drink-driving. In addition, you have to give them the feeling that if they violate the law, they actually run the risk of being caught. "The fact is that there are still regions today where it is clear to a driver that if he violates the law, nobody will catch him on the road anyway."
But there can also be successes through new ideas. Roet points to a project from Sweden with which one specifically addressed young drivers: "The idea was promoted that a group would choose a driver who promised not to drink alcohol that evening," says Roet. In return, the remaining members of the group then paid their driver, for example, entry to the club or disco and also paid for his - non-alcoholic - drinks. «The project was a success. If you try something like this with us, someone may voluntarily say "I'm driving today" because of the expected benefits."