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2017-03-14 08:37

DON’T DRINK AND DRIVE: SA’s already horrific road death figures increase numerically over holiday periods as many irresponsible road users drink and drive. Image: Shutterstock

Cape Town - Parking off and opening the car boot to have a few drinks on the road is a tradition of sorts for many South Africans. 

Serious concern has been voiced over the continued tendency to drink and drive in 2017, MasterDrive SA claims. National Transport Minister, Dipuo Peters, is one of the people concerned about this habit and is proposing changing drinking and driving to a schedule five offence, which is the same category under which murder falls. 
Managing director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says while he commends this step he is not convinced it will bring about big enough change, fast enough.

Herbert says: "The move to change the blood alcohol level to 0%, which was started almost two years ago, still has not come to fruition. I believe the greatest potential to bring about real change lies in changing mindsets of drivers. Yet, this still remains the biggest challenge to reducing drinking and driving."

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According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), South Africa tops the list of drunk-driving related deaths in the world.

And, according to the latest Global Status report on Road Safety for 2015, 58% of deaths are alcohol related.

An example of the need to change mindsets was seen over the December holiday period, says MasterDrive. Taking a break from your drive to Durban is something all road safety experts would recommend. Herbert continues: "None of them, however, would recommend drinking during this break." 

Earlier in March, the Western Cape provincial government reported 19 people had been arrested.

MEC Donald Grant said: "Provincial traffic officers arrested 19 motorists for allegedly driving under the influence of alcohol on March 10-11, 2017. 

"The highest breath alcohol reading of 1.11mg/1000ml was recorded in the Beaufort West service area. This was four times the legal limit of 0.24 mg/1 000ml."

Herbert adds: "A colleague of mine works as a paramedic in the Van Renen’s Pass area during the holiday season. He says drivers stopping along their route, opening their boots and enjoying some whiskey in the middle of their trip is becoming somewhat of a tradition for many South Africans. In fact some people have converted their boots into fridges." 
The subsequent devastation this caused on the roads over the festive season was indescribable, claims MasterDrive. Along with high speeds, reckless driving for the conditions and unroadworthy vehicles, the carnage on that stretch of road was the worst the paramedic saw in his 34 years of working there. 


While more severe legislation is one very important part of dealing with this blight on our society, claims MasterDrive, we as members of that society need to play our role as well.

“We need to emphasise to as many people as possible that every tragic drunken driving crash, every night spent in jail for drinking and driving, and every life destroyed starts with a decision," says Herbert. "The decision to drink and drive. 
"This is a link to a video (watch video below) I came across a while ago which spoke very loudly to me about the consequences when drivers make the wrong choice. I hope you will join me in this endeavour to get drivers to change their mindset when it comes to drinking and driving and encourage them to make the right choice." 

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