‘No’ to drunk driving

2017-08-29 06:00
 Photo: suppliedMike, Caro and Chas Smit in happier times.

Photo: suppliedMike, Caro and Chas Smit in happier times.

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SOUTH Africa is the worst in the world for drunk driving. According to statistics from the Medical Research Council (MRC) there are 17 000-plus road deaths every year, with 58% of deaths being alcohol related.
Another approximately 150 000 people are injured annually in road carnages.

“We should all be appalled by these figures,” says Caro Smit, who lost her son in 2005 to a drunk driving accident.

Smit, has since launched an NPO, South Africans Against Drunk Driving (SADD), the aim of which is to reduce the high road
carnages and assist families who have been affected by a similar fate.

“I am a professional psychiatric social worker and have been involved in alcohol and drug counselling and educating all my career.
“My son Chas, a sober pedestrian, was killed in 2005 by someone who drank, then drove. I decided to use my vast knowledge in this field and started South Africans Against Drunk Driving - SADD - based on the United States MADD organisation.
“Our mission is to stop drink driving, to protect families from needless death and make a difference.”

She said very few people know what the legal blood alcohol concentration limits of alcohol is. 

“We have done extensive research in the field and the legal limit is less than 0.05g for an ordinary driver and less than 0.02g for a professional driver [taxi, bus, truck drivers]. 

“SADD has concentrated on educating about the legal limits, teaching the correct units for different alcoholic drinks, educating what units come to in the blood and breath, and about the elimination rates of alcohol.”

Smit said the “just-one-drink-attitude” is inaccurate and dangerous.

“It is better to use a unit measure as one unit gives a blood alcohol concentration of 0.02g. One Black Label 750ml quart (Ingudu) has four units in it and will result in a blood alcohol level of 0.08g. - over the legal limit.

“One restaurant glass (usually 250 ml) of red wine will come to 3.5 units and will result in a blood alcohol level 0.07g - over the legal limit.”

 She said SADD works countrywide and acts as an advocacy group to monitor drink driving, to ask for more testing, to act as a media expert and assist victims emotionally and with court advice. 

“In Durban, for example, SADD assisted the victims of the two cyclists killed by an intoxicated driver to get the ‘driving under the influence of alcohol’ charge added to his charge sheet, even though his blood was not taken after the crash.”

Smit said drink driving is a preventable crime that causes enormous emotional damage to families, and results in huge cost to the economy, and the community can play a part in ending this. 

“People can assist by learning the correct facts about alcohol and basic road safety, and by educating others. By joining SADD we will share this information through DVDs, pamphlets, projects, and so on.

“Citizens also need to be vocal about asking for safer roads and best road safety practices being done by the government like fining for non-seat-belt use, doing more alcohol testing and getting convictions.”

She encouraged the community to observe World Day of Remembrance of Road Traffic Victims on November 19.

For more information, or to join SADD visit www.sadd.org.za or phone them on 082 821 3673.

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