Telling the world about Drive Soba

By Mike Barrington

The world will be listening and learning today when a Northland woman explains how to stop drink drivers getting tanked up and behind the wheel.

Forensic psychologist Bronwen Wood will today tell the Safety 2012 World Conference in Wellington why the Drive Soba programme she developed for the Northland District Health Board is so successful.

Drink-drivers are slow learners with on average 27 per cent of them getting caught a second time for the same offence. Close to 32,000 people were caught drink driving in New Zealand last year and about 6000 of them were on their third or subsequent offences. Alcohol is a factor in about 500 serious or fatal road crashes each year.

"Getting repeat drink drivers to change their ways is crucial to making our roads safer," AA motoring affairs general manager Mike Noon said.

And Drive Soba is doing just that. Of the 292 repeat drink drivers who completed the Northland programme between 2007-11, only 18 had been caught drink driving again at June. This is a reoffending rate of 6 per cent.

Mr Noon said rehabilitation was a key to curbing repeat drink driving and the results of the Drive Soba programme showed how much better rehabilitation could be carried out.

The programme recognises that changing the behaviour of drink drivers requires more than disqualifying them from driving. Drive Soba combines alcohol education, motivational interviewing, relapse prevention and other techniques to reduce reoffending.

Mr Noon said the technique for dealing with drink drivers now ended up being catch and release. Many of the worst offenders were people with serious alcohol issues and to get serious about stopping drink driving more programmes like Drive Soba were needed.

"We've just seen the introduction of alcohol interlocks as a sentencing option and a trial of an alcohol and drug court is about to begin, but more rehabilitation and treatment is the other piece of the puzzle needed to get drunk drivers off our roads for good," Mr Noon said.

Kaipara and Whangarei Road Safety campaigner Gillian Archer said Drive Soba had grown in significance was now available at several Northland centres.

- Northern Advocate

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