DRUNK DRIVING SCOURGE: Drunk driving claims many lives in South Africa. Image: iStock
Cape Town - South Africa is rated as one of the worst driving countries in the world and with road deaths not decreasing and more than 20 drivers being arrested for drunk driving every weekend in the Western Cape alone, the message has still not hit home.
In fact, in 2015 South Africa topped the list of drunk-driving related deaths in the world according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
During December 2015, more than 500 people were already killed on SA roads before the major start of the festive season.
At this time of the year many companies across South Africa will be hosting end-of-year functions for their staff. While these are festive, celebratory occasions, the Automobile Association (AA) urges all motorists to remember that alcohol and driving do not mix, and that alternatives are available to drivers who want to drink at these events.
According to figures published by the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) the most fatalities on South African roads occur on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays between 5pm in the evening and 10pm at night. The AA said these periods are significant and clearly coincide with times of increased drinking, when the risk is higher.
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The AA said: “It’s become somewhat of a ritual at this time of year to warn drivers of the dangers of drinking and driving. But, unfortunately, the message appears to be lost as many people still insist on drinking and driving, not only endangering their lives, but those of other road users."
The AA noted that traffic authorities around the country have been clear that they are increasing their activities and that more checks, and roadblocks, are commencing.
“There really is no excuse for drink driving nowadays. There are many take-me-home services available, including AA Designated Driver, which are reliable, affordable and safe. We urge anyone who is going to be drinking to consider these options before getting behind the wheel themselves. Companies hosting year-end events must also take responsibility and not allow workers who have been drinking to drive home,” the AA said.
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Apart from this, the AA said while efforts to deal with drink drivers are being stepped up across the country, more needs to be done. It noted that there are approximately nine million drivers in South Africa but that only 3000 cases of drunk driving are opened monthly, less than 0.5% of all drivers. With the known rates of alcohol use in South Africa, this indicates that the enforcement rate is particularly low and that a fresh approach to drinking and driving is needed.
“In addition, those caught drinking and driving must face the harshest possible penalties. We believe that a message needs to be sent to all South Africans that this type of reckless behaviour will not be tolerated,” the AA concluded.