Extended trading permits (ETPs) for licensed hotels in Perth
The aim of this intervention was to examine the impact of later trading hours for licensed hotels in Perth, Western Australia on levels of associated impaired driver road crashes and driver breath alcohol levels (BALs). Late trading was associated with increased levels of impaired driver road crashes and alcohol consumption, particularly high-risk alcoholic beverages. Greater numbers of patrons and characteristics specific to clientele of hotels which applied for late trading hours (i.e. younger age, greater propensity to drunk-drive, preference for high-risk beverages) were suggested as having contributed to this increase.
Although not substantiated, it has been proposed by some that longer trading hours for licensed premises allows drinkers to pace themselves, thereby slowing the rate of drinking, ultimately reducing intoxication and related harms.
To examine the impact of later trading hours for licensed hotels in Perth, Western Australia on levels of associated impaired driver road crashes and driver breath alcohol levels (BALs).
Police data on the 'last place of drinking' for impaired drivers involved in road crashes and their corresponding BALs were examined to identify those associated with Perth hotels between 1 July 1990 and 30 June 1997. During this period, 43 (23%) of the 186 hotels meeting study criteria were granted an Extended Trading Permit for 1 a.m. closing (ETP hotels), while the rest continued to close at midnight (non-ETP hotels). Time-series analyses employing multiple linear regressions were applied to determine whether an association existed between the introduction of extended trading and (i) monthly levels of impaired driver road crashes associated with ETP hotels and (ii) driver BALs associated with ETP hotels. Trends associated with non-ETP hotels were included as controls and possible confounders were considered.
After controlling for the trend in crash rates associated with non-ETP hotels and the introduction of mobile police breath testing stations to Perth freeways, a significant increase in monthly crash rates for ETP hotels was found. This relationship was largely accounted for by higher volumes of high-alcohol content beer, wine and spirits purchased by ETP hotels. No relation was found between driver BALs and the introduction of ETPs.
At peak times for alcohol-related offences, late trading is associated with higher BALs among those drinkers most at risk of alcohol-related harm.
Although not substantiated, it has been proposed by some that longer trading hours for licensed premises allows drinkers to pace themselves, thereby slowing the rate of drinking, ultimately reducing intoxication and related harms. General research evidence relating to alcohol availability runs contrary to this line of reasoning and predicts that increasing alcohol availability via longer trading hours is likely to result in increased consumption. Despite several decades of indirect evidence to support this proposition, there has been little specific research on the impact of extended trading hours for licensed premises on patron consumption levels to support informed debate.
Extended trading hours
Overall, driver BALs were lower during the after period, reflecting an overall downward trend (0.05 BAL limit introduced in June 1993). With the exception of female drivers apprehended between 10.01 p.m. and midnight, older drivers had higher BALs. The adjusted R2 remained at less than 5% in all cases. Two sets of regressions showed evidence of an interaction effect: a two-way interaction for females and a three-way interaction for males.
Females apprehended between 10.01 p.m. and midnight who had last drunk at an ETP hotel with active extended trading hours (ETP hotel after period) had significantly lower BALs than all other females apprehended during that time-period. Solving the MLR equation, the average BAL for females apprehended between 10.01 p.m. and midnight after drinking at an ETP hotel with late closing was 0.113 mg/ml. The mean BAL for drivers associated with non-ETP hotels during the after period was 0.137 mg/ml. In addition, mean BALs for impaired drivers during the before period were 0.133 mg/ml and 0.130 mg/ml for non-ETP and ETP hotels, respectively. Thus, among females apprehended between 10.01 p.m. and midnight, mean BALs associated with non-ETP hotels increased by about 3%, whereas BALs associated with ETP hotels decreased by about 14%.
Mean BALs associated with non-ETP hotels among males apprehended between 12.01 a.m. and 2.00 a.m. declined by about 9%, whereas mean BALs among drivers who last drank at an ETP hotel increased by about 1.5% over the study period.
This study has shown that extensions of hotel closing hours influence average BALs among some patrons and that the outcome varies by time of day, age and gender. Having last drunk at a hotel with active extended trading hours was associated with lower BALs among some female drivers (but not males)the effect specific to those apprehended between 10.01 p.m. and midnight (i.e. before closing time). However, it is unlikely that extended trading hours encouraged female drinkers to pace themselves, as these patrons actually departed at least 1 hour before closing time and therefore did not partake of the additional drinking hours on offer. In any case, the questions raised cannot be answered by these data and further investigation is required.
Chikritzhs T., Stockwell T. The impact of later trading hours for hotels on levels of impaired driver road crashes and driver breath alcohol levels. Addiction 2006; 101: 1254.
Chikritzhs T., Stockwell T., Masters L. Evaluation of the Public Health and Safety Impact of Extended Trading Permits for Perth Hotels and Night Clubs. Technical Report. Perth: National Centre for Research into the Prevention of Drug Abuse, Curtin University of Technology; 1997.