Alcohol's link to road deaths

2006-12-21 14:26
Johannesburg - The department of transport says the abuse of alcohol by drivers and pedestrians has been found to be the main contributing factor of road fatalities this festive season.

The governments news agency, BuaNews, reported that about 60% of all road deaths involving pedestrians and drivers were alcohol related, with victims having a 0.05 milligram (mg) or more alcohol in their blood.

"As the Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) in the driver increases, chances of being involved in a crash also rise," said the transport department's Arrive Alive Campaign.

The department said the increase in the crash rate that went with increasing BAC was progressive. The crash rate of a driver with a BAC of 0.08 mg is 2.7 times higher than that of sober drivers.

"When a driver has a BAC of 1.5 mg, his crash rate is 22 times higher than that of a sober driver. Not only does the crash rate grow rapidly with increasing BAC, the crash also becomes more severe.

"With a BAC of 1.5 mg, the crash rate for fatal crashes is about 200 times more than that of sober drivers," said the department.

The legal BAC limit is 0.02 (mg) for professional drivers and 0.05 mg for other drivers.

The department has warned that traffic officials would do more random breath tests for all drivers.

"If you are apprehended and found to be over the legal limit, you do not have an option of paying a fine. You will be arrested and taken to a police station where you will be booked in jail," it said.

The maximum penalty for drunk driving is R120 000 and/or six years imprisonment.

Offenders can also have their driving licenses suspended.

They also run the risk of insurers refusing to pay their accident claims, as they would have committed a criminal act.

"Drunk drivers and speedsters are standing a good chance of forfeiting their vehicles to the state," the department warned.

In the first 11 days of December at least 401 people died on South Africa's roads in 347 accidents.

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