The contribution of alcohol to night time crash risk and other risks of night driving

Accid Anal Prev. 2005 Sep;37(5):816-24. doi: 10.1016/j.aap.2005.03.021.


Many studies show that driving at night is more risky in terms of crash involvements per distance travelled than driving during the day. The reasons for this include the more prevalent use of alcohol by drivers at night, the effects of fatigue on the driving task and the risk associated with reduced visibility. Although the consumption of alcohol prior to driving occurs most commonly at night, drink-driving is not inherently a night time risk factor. This study decomposes the New Zealand risk of driving at night into risk associated with alcohol and risk associated with inherently night time factors. The overall risk associated with alcohol use by drivers was shown to decrease with increasing age for the most risky situation analysed (male drivers on weekend nights). Given the levels of drinking and driving on weekend nights, the overall effect of alcohol was shown to contribute almost half of weekend night time risk for drivers aged under 40 on lower volume roads, but to contribute little to overall risk on higher-volume roads, consistent with other research showing that higher-volume roads are not favoured by drinking drivers. Risk at night relative to risk during the day (excluding risk associated with drinking and driving) was shown to decrease with age. Roads with illumination at night are less risky at night relative to during the day than roads without illumination. The risks estimated in this paper reflect the behaviour of the road users studied and their prevalence on the roads under the conditions analysed.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control
  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology*
  • Automobile Driving*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Darkness
  • Ethanol / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • New Zealand / epidemiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk
  • Seasons


  • Ethanol