New devices to curb drug and alcohol related road accidents

Drunk driving kills
Police will be looking for drunk or drugged drivers

Even though the festive season is highlighted as a dangerous time to be on South African roads owing to the proliferation of office parties and school and university farewells, the truth of the matter is that the special efforts undertaken by road authorities to combat drunk and reckless driving at that time, ought to extend right through the year. South Africans are notorious for combining too much alcohol with too little road sense and flagrantly disregard road safety as they flaunt the rules and slip behind the wheel after a few too many. All of which has led to South African roads being labelled death traps; a label that is justified by horrific road accident statistics.

During the 2008/2009 holiday season, authorities in all provinces clamped down on drunken driving with a no nonsense approach. Police officers in the Johannesburg CBD enlisted the of a new intoximeter alcohol evidential testing centre in their attempts to combat drunk driving. The intoximeter ensures that motorists who are over the limit no longer need to be taken to police stations for blood tests. Instead, special Drager devices (R75,000 per device) will provide instant and accurate results of alcohol levels in driver’s blood. Chief Superintendent, Wayne Minnaar, says that the devices provide police officers with a printout of motorists’ names, as well as the exact date and time of the test and the exact level of alcohol in their blood. The printouts are admissible in court.

The Drager devices and new testing centre have received the AA stamp of approval, who hopes that the new initiatives will have a significant impact on the incidence of drunk driving and result in more convictions.

While drunk driving grabs a lot of headlines, driving under the influence of drugs is also a serious problem in South Africa, but the City of Cape Town has a plan to combat the phenomenon. The “drugalyser” (R25,000 per device), which was launched on the 25th November 2008, requires only a sample of saliva or sweat to determine if motorists are under the influence of drugs. Community Safety MEC, Patrick McKenzie, took a public drug test at the official launch in the Western Cape, the first province to test the device. McKenzie is upbeat about the drugalyser’s potential, and stated, “I am impressed by the abilities of the drug tester and am keen to try out a mechanism that will assist law enforcement in ensuring that drivers are adhering to traffic laws."

The drugalyser will be used at roadblocks throughout the Safer Summer Season programme, which will also see an increase in the number of dawn roadblocks to safeguard early morning cyclists from late night revellers. Cape Town Traffic Services have already achieved significant results with regular late night and weekend roadblocks, checkpoints and patrols.

Pub owners and party goers should also take note of the Western Cape Liquor Bill that was passed early in November and which bans the serving of alcohol after 2 am.


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