Report numberRA-2005-57
TitleYoung people and alcohol in traffic
SubtitleFindings from international literature and from a survey of behavior and opinion of Flemish college students,
AuthorsKarin Van Vlierden
Published byPolicy Research Centre for Traffic Safety 2002-2006
Number of pages88
Document languageEnglish
Work packageOther: Behaviour

Students from the Provinciale Hogeschool Limburg, as young and/or unexperienced drivers, completed a survey about the possible introduction of a lower legal BAC-limit for this target group. Questions were asked about their experience with the effects of alcohol on driving ability; prevalence of driving under the influence of alcohol; support for a lower legal BAC-limit; sensitivity to sanctions when breaking the rules; and influence of preventive or other measures on their behaviour. We describe the results of the survey together with findings in the international literature. The object of the study is to guide and to place in context the implementation of the lower legal BAC-limit for young and/or unexperienced drivers.


The students who completed the survey are not fully aware of the higher accident risk for their age group when driving under the influence of alcohol. They recognize the effects of alcohol on driving ability en admit these effects at low levels of consumption. However, a feeling of danger comes only to the fore at higher levels of consumption. In addition, it is likely that some students overestimate their own driving ability.


Most of the students occasionally drive after drinking too much or ride with a driver who drunk too much. Although these are weekly behaviours for only 3% of them and monthly for 6%, the fact remains that about one third of the students put theirself and others in danger by driving under the influence of alcohol and even more of them took the risk to ride with a driver under the influence during the last 12 months.


The students resist a lower legal BAC-limit confined to young drivers. Nevertheless, this lower limit could have a positive effect on their behaviour. Most of them indicate compliance with a possible lower limit in the future.


Jail sentence, license suspension and vehicle impoundment are the most deterrent sanctions for the students. A little less deterrent are fines. Use of an alcolock is also less deterrent than license suspension and vehicle impoundment. Sanctions commonly used as alternative punishments, lessons and community service, are the least effective to deter driving under the influence of alcohol for the students.


Using a designated driver is a good habit among the students. Taking care for friends and stopping them from driving after drinking is also prominent. We found growth potential in preventive measures like victim impact panels, alternative means of transportation, education and responsible beverage services.

DownloadPDF icon RA-2005-57.pdf


The Policy Research Centre for Traffic Safety carries out policy relevant scientific research under the authority of the Flemish Government. The Centre is the result of a

cooperation between Hasselt University, KU Leuven and VITO, the Flemish Institute for Technological Research.


Leuven vito