Alcohol represents one of the greatest sources of danger for car drivers. This is particularly true during the holiday season as Christmas parties are piling up and mulled wine is increasingly popular. "On a global level, every tenth fatal accident can be traced back to alcohol. Men are more likely to expose themselves to this danger, risking their lives with it", says Christoph Lauterwasser, Head of the Allianz Center for Technology (AZT).
Considerable regional and country-specific variations
Fatality rates of road traffic accidents caused by alcohol were investigated by the World Health Organization (WHO). An analysis carried out by Allianz shows the significant regional differences: eastern Europe and central Asia hold the tragic top position with 18.2%, followed by Europe (16.7%) and the Americas (12.9%). Meanwhile, Africa (8%), Asia Pacific (7.3%) and the Middle East (2.4%) sit well below the global average of 10.9%.
The countries that carry particular weight in their respective regions are Belarus (51.4%), Lithuania (48.2%), Venezuela (47.1%), Namibia (43.2%), Mongolia (20.7%) and the United Arab Emirates (17.7%).
In Europe the number of fatalities in alcohol-related accidents is highest in the eastern countries. Italy, meanwhile, is top of the class with 2.7%. Germany compares relatively favorably with its fourth place ranking. On average, 8.7% of fatalities in traffic accidents are caused by alcohol. The German Federal Statistics Office's most recent analysis proves that the dangers of drink-driving must also not be underestimated in this country: in 2013 there were 11 deaths for every 1,000 accidents, but when looking exclusively at alcohol-related accidents, this figure rose to 22. The number of severe injuries is also significantly higher when alcohol is involved (220 vs. 346).
Men aged 21-24 are the most at risk
In most countries, men are twice as likely to be involved in fatal, alcohol-induced road accidents as women. This also applies in Germany: while 12.4% of fatal accidents involving men are down to alcohol consumption, the figure lies at 4.9% for women.
Young drivers aged between 21 and 24 are more frequently involved in accidents caused by drink-driving, as indicated by a study carried out by the Allianz Center for Technology. The figures for this age group (18%) are almost double those of the 18-20 (10%) or 25-64 groups (11%).
"Alcohol consumption and a larger risk appetite in young people are the main causes for these high accident rates", Lauterwasser explains. "For this reason, Allianz is calling for the maximum age for the zero-alcohol-limit legislation in Germany to be raised from 21, as it currently stands, to 24." In addition, more frequent police controls and higher fines are an important factor when it comes to fighting drink-driving.
Insurance cover when drink-driving is detected
If a driver in Germany has a blood alcohol level of over 1.1 per mille, auto physical damage insurance will no longer cover the damage to the driver's own vehicle. Similarly, liability insurance for damage to third parties will no longer hold full effect. Rights of recourse up to 5,000 EUR can be asserted by the insurer. In addition, the driver will be guilty of a criminal offence.
To avoid exposing yourself to the risk of drink-driving entirely, the best solution is to take public transport or a taxi. It is also vital not to underestimate the lingering effect of alcohol the next day; the human body is only able to break down alcohol in the blood at a rate of 0.1 per mille per hour.