Stop drunk drivers from killing
Call to ban alcohol advertising
Call to ban alcohol advertising
New strategy needed to curb road carnage, say transport authorities
WITH preliminary figures for road fatalities at 1465 for the festive season, transport authorities have called for a ban on alcohol advertising and a zero alcohol limit tolerance in an attempt to curb drunk driving.
According to the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC), alcohol contributes to 60% of all road accidents in the country each year.
This means R180-billion of the R306-billion the economy loses each year is due to alcohol-related accidents.
RTMC senior manager Ashref Ismail said the organisation would be clamping down heavily on drinking and driving this year and would lobby for a total ban on all alcohol advertising.
“It might not put an end to road accidents but it will definitely reduce the desire to drink,” he said.
Ismail said countries that stopped alcohol advertising and cut the legal alcohol limit had seen a reduction in road accidents.
“At the moment, South Africa is not looking good and we are in the top 10 of African countries with the highest road accidents so we need to do something to reduce consumption and fast.
“It does not help us to cut the legal limit by dropping it from 0.05g to 0.02g of alcohol per 100ml of blood because that means people can still drink half a glass of beer. No one goes out and drinks half a glass of beer. We need to have a mindset of when we drink we simply do not drive.”
He said the organisation would aggressively lobby for a ban on alcohol advertising and the reduction of the legal limit to zero by engaging with stakeholders and embarking on educational campaigns.
“These stakeholders include the Department of Health and the Department of Social Development who fully support and endorse this call. The educational campaign will include approaching suppliers like taverns and pubs to work with us. We will also work with NGOs such as South Africans Against Drunk Driving (Sadd).”
He said the organisation would also focus on enforcement by working with traffic authorities to ensure a minimum of 25000 drivers are screened nationally per month.
“We want to sensitise the SAPS and NPA to this campaign to ensure that if you are caught then you should be forced to retake your learner’s and your driver’s tests. This will go for habitual offenders who drive under the influence, are guilty of reckless and negligent driving, and constantly exceed the speed limit.
“We also want to call on the judiciary to come up with more creative sentences, such as having to clean a mortuary or a hospital trauma centre. We also hope to start a name and shame campaign.”
Ismail said because 65% of cases worked on by staff at public hospitals during weekends were alcohol-related, it was a massive drain on the economy.
“Buckling up is another major issue which must be tackled. Research shows that only 60% to 65% of front seat passengers buckle up while a dismal 2% of rear seat passengers buckle up. If we can increase both the front and rear seatbelt wearing rate to 80% we can reduce up to 30% of road deaths.”
Sadd founder and director Caro Smit said research had shown that alcohol advertising encourages people to start drinking at younger ages.
“The leading cause of death for people aged 15 to 29 is road accidents where alcohol is involved. Internationally, we have seen a reduction when countries have banned adverts, made their sales time shorter and people are not allowed to serve intoxicated customers. In a case where the customer is involved in an accident the person who sold them the alcohol is held accountable.”
She said probation drivers who had their licence for less than two years should have a zero legal alcohol limit.
“Only 2800 people were booked for drunk driving over a six-week period [this season]. This proves that authorities were not testing enough people,” Smit said.
Letter from Caro Smit to The Star 11 February 2013
‘Slap on wrist’ likely for NPA head’s drunk son
January 21 2013 at 09:41am
When Rene Nel’s husband was killed by a drunk driver, it felt as if she had been given a life sentence.
Nearly two years ago, Louis Nel and his friend were knocked down while jogging.
Louis was killed instantly and his friend was knocked unconscious.
The driver, Gunter Geyer, who also goes by the name Gunter van Rensburg, is the son of National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) acting head Karen van Rensburg, and is a Pretoria rugby player.
Geyer has pleaded guilty to drunk driving and culpable homicide.
But the Nels – who feel as if they haven’t been able to recover from Louis’s death, partly through having to relive the horror at every court date – are preparing for the possibility he will be sentenced to community service.
At the start of the case, the Nels were asked to sign a plea bargain giving Geyer community service and house arrest in exchange for a guilty plea.
Rene said they were told that community service would mean work in a garden twice a week and house arrest at night.
“They told us there weren’t enough police to monitor house arrest properly and all they could do was phone every night to check if he was home.”
Rene and her daughter Paulet believe it is unacceptable that the law allows a drunk driver who has killed someone to get such a light sentence.
“Could life be so cheap?” Paulet asked.
They refused the plea bargain conditions, but Geyer still pleaded guilty and the defence is still asking for community service.
The prosecutor won’t tell the family what sentence he has asked for.
Now Paulet has started a petition calling for minimum jail time for drunk and reckless drivers who kill or seriously injure someone.
The response to the Facebook petition was overwhelming, and Paulet has heard from people who faced a similar trauma as her family.
“It is time to take drunk driving and speeding seriously and impose proper consequences. I’m afraid that a slap on the wrist and a fine is just not adequate for such a serious matter,” Paulet wrote in the petition.
Caro Smit from South Africans Against Drunk Driving said the difference between murder and culpable homicide appears to depend on the publicity involved and whether the case goes to a high court or not.
“But according to the National Road Traffic Act, there is jail time of six to nine years that can be asked for with culpable homicide,” she pointed out.
Geyer’s sentencing is set down for April.
On December 7th 2009, Minister Sibusiso Ndebele announced that breatherlisers will be on sale to drivers during the holiday season.
Drunk Arrive Alive Spokesperson E.Cape
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