Drink-driving in commercial transport

  • Published: European Transport Safety Council. no date
  • Authors: European Transport Safety Council
  • Date Added: 05 Mar 2013
  • Last Update: 05 Mar 2013
  • Format: pdf


To provide an overview of how drink-driving could be effectively tackled in commercial transport through various regulations and initiatives.


The report reviewed current research, technology and legislation acrossEurope that is being used or could be used to prevent drink-driving.

Key Findings:

  • In Europe, at least 20 per cent of all road deaths in Europe are alcohol related whereas about only 1 per cent of all kilometres driven in Europe are driven by drivers with 0.5 g/l alcohol in their blood or more.

  • In July 2009, over 38,000 coaches were checked out by police forces in 17 countries: 55 bus and coach drivers were found to be above the legal limit, five were found under the effect of drugs and 106 did not hold a driving license, having previously been disqualified for offences. Drink-driving by coach drivers is thus as high as 0.15 per cent only, far less than in the general driving population.

  • Yet, alcohol related road RTIs in commercial transport result in more serious outcomes due to the vehicle RTI incompatibility caused by increased size and mass of commercial vehicles.

  • Hindering drink-driving in commercial transport could be achieved through actions in three main areas:

    • Regulations;
    • Awareness raising and education; and
    • Enforcement of law.
  • It appears that there is no one-fits-all solution to tackle drink-driving in commercial transport and that current technologies such as alcohol interlocks do not represent an end in themselves to solve the problem.

  • In the Commission Communication on an EU alcohol strategy the Commission invites the Member States to even consider a zero BAC limit for young and novice drivers and drivers of public transports and dangerous goods.

  • Consistent and visible enforcement has been shown to be a powerful deterrent to drink-driving. Enforcement methods which have proven effective include breath testing (random or where drink-driving is suspected), sobriety checkpoints, police patrols, and officer training.

  • A time series of roadside surveys in theNetherlandscovering a 30-year period showed a high correlation between enforcement and drink-driving levels. During the whole period, each doubling of the enforcement level resulted in a substantial reduction (by approximately 25 per cent) of drink-driving.

  • Alcohol interlocks eliminate drink-driving virtually to zero once installed, but the positive effect on recidivism usually disappears completely after the lock is removed from the vehicle.

  • Various assessments have shown that an alcohol interlock is more effective than driving licence suspension in preventing recidivism.


Drink-driving, Commercial vehicles, Preventative measures.


Commercial transport – relates to goods vehicles, buses and coaches.