Queensland's premier road accident and safety research body will lend its considerable expertise to China to try to determine why the nation has so many drink driving related road crashes.
Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety - Queensland (CARRS-Q) researcher George Jia said while China owned just three per cent of the world's vehicles, it accounted for approximately 15 per cent or 100,000 of the world's annual fatal road accidents.
That's according to official Chinese figures, although the World Health Organisation estimates the true figure is more than twice as high.
Mr Jia said in 2009 Chinese police caught 313,000 drink drivers while nearly 6000 drink driving related accidents resulted in 2,665 deaths.
"Not only is drink driving a significant contributor to car crashes in China but as the country's economy prospers the number of cars on the road is increasing and so too is the number of people who drive while under the influence of alcohol," he said.
"Drink driving is a big problem and my research will try to determine why this is the case.
"I'll look at people's attitudes and beliefs about drink driving to try to find out whether social and cultural factors are at work here, and whether police enforcement has an impact.
"Culturally, the Chinese like to celebrate, but there appears to be a lack of information on the causes and impact of drink driving."
Mr Jia, who won a Prime Minister's Australia Asia Post Graduate Award to undertake the research, will conduct studies in the cities of Yinchuan and Guangzhou.
He will investigate the attitudes of general drivers and drink driving offenders, police perceptions and experiences of random breath testing, and the impacts of other drink driving sanctions including fines.
Once the Chinese data is collected, Mr Jia will compare drink driving legislation between Australia and China with the aim of providing practical suggestions to policy makers in China on how to reduce the rate of alcohol-related road deaths and accidents in the country.
Mr Jia has had a long interest in road safety having known people in his home city of Yinchuan who'd been involved in accidents. His decision to undertake serious study stemmed from seeing television footage of a road accident in China in which five people, including a pregnant woman, were killed and four injured. The 2009 accident triggered a crackdown on drink driving and the subsequent amendment of legislation in May this year to make drink driving a criminal offence.
"The accident brought tragedy to so many families," he said.
"I decided to spend the rest of my life doing what I could to decrease the local, national and international burden of road trauma-related harm."
Based at the Queensland University of Technology, CARRS-Q is dedicated to research, education and outreach activities and is a vital player in the international pursuit of road safety.
Media contact: Rose Trapnell, QUT media officer, 07 3138 2999 or email@example.com