Traffic dept joins call to ban alcohol adverts

2013-05-08 00:00

BANNING alcohol averts might save children’s lives.

A study conducted by the South African Medical Research Council in 2011 shows that 66% of children in Grade 8 to 10 are exposed to alcohol. The study sampled 20 227 pupils between Grades 8 and 10 randomly selected from different schools .

This figure is a great source of concern for the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC). It is consistent with the finding that drunk drivers and pedestrians contribute to 60% of road accidents. This makes the youth, particularly pedestrians, the most vulnerable road user group.

In light of the study, the RTMC has backed Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi’s call to ban alcohol advertisements.

Said Collins Letsoalo, acting CEO of the RTMC: “It is not enough that mere labels are attached to alcohol pleading for responsible alcohol use. We need to move towards a total ban on alcohol advertising.

“The ongoing debate that the alcohol industry contributes in excess of R10 billion to the economy cannot be justified against the cost of crashes to the economy, which stands at R306 billion per annum,”

Charlotte Sullivan, director of South Africans against Drunk Driving (SADD), agreed with the RTMC. Research by the University of Stellenbosch found that children in primary schools were consuming alcohol on a regular basis, she said.

“SADD is in favour of the banning of alcohol advertising, but also believes that this should be coupled with an increase in law enforcement,” said Sullivan.

Her organisation believes tougher law enforcement should include more roadblocks and compulsory breathalysing at all crash scenes. “The Justice Department should take drunk driving more seriously, and appropriate prison sentences should be given where fatalities take place. People in SA drink then drive because they know they can get away with it.”

In an effort to stop drunk driving, the RTMC and provincial and municipal traffic authorities will be increasing their weekly targets for Operation Tshwara Setagwa (catch the drunkard).

The operation is a nationwide campaign against alcohol abuse by road users and will soon be linked to the “name and shame” and the “Woza Re-Test” campaigns. These campaigns aim to force motorists convicted of drunk driving, excessive speeding or reckless driving to take their learner’s and driver’s tests again.

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