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EDITORIAL: Drink driving a serious crime

BEA DOTTIN, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: Drink driving a serious crime

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As celebrations for this festive season continue, we need to take precaution with one particular aspect: safety on our roads and the issue of drink driving. We have experienced too many road accidents already for this year, and although they are no figures to state how many involved intoxicated motorists, we must ensure there are no others.
At this time of year, we tend to consume excessive amounts of alcoholic beverages at the various parties and while visiting family and friends. Unfortunately, it is often done without consideration whether it would impair our ability to effectively operate machinery.
While we tend to know when someone has gone over their limits, we often look the other way and make excuses as to why that impaired driver can continue behind the wheel. The driver who has consumed far too many drinks could simply become the butt of jokes.
As a people, we do not see drinking and driving as a serious matter, and even though it is a crime, some of us do not look at it that way. There is an understanding of the seriousness of the problem, given the appeal in recent times from those in the alcoholic beverages industry to drink responsibly, but there’s no evidence how effective this appeal has been.
That is why the work by the Barbados Road Safety Association, the Royal Barbados Police Force and a few activists to get Breathalyzer testing is so critical. While those with the power to ensure it becomes a reality have long fiddled over its introduction, the police must take action. This situation is as serious as crimes involving assaults, with the end result having similar consequences.
The police, despite their limited manpower, need a strong presence on our roads this festive season. If they must, then sobriety checks they should apply to drivers who may be driving while intoxicated. Lawmen must also start providing statistics on the number of drivers pulled over and those charged with driving under the influence. Such information is important for any national public education campaign.
While we wait for the Breathalyzer to be introduced, we urge law enforcers to institute a “drive sober or get pulled over” programme in the hope that it will eliminate or severely contain drink driving.
This holiday period, there are certain basic things motorists should observe. If you must drink, do not drive and have a designated driver. Even if you are a pedestrian and you drink, get someone to take you home. More importantly, do not let someone who has been drinking get behind that wheel.
Drink driving must be seen not only as a criminal offence but a dangerous one. It can severely impact permanently on too many lives.

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