Drunk drivers beware this Easter holiday

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Polokwane - Motorists have been warned not to drink and drive in Limpopo during the upcoming Easter holidays.

Provincial Roads and Transport MEC Pinky Kekana issued the warning during the official opening of Limpopo's first ever Alcohol Evidence Centre (AEC) in Polokwane on Tuesday.

"As the Easter holidays are approaching, we will ensure that our roads become safer for all road users. Our law enforcement officers will make use of the AEC, which will give them an opportunity to record and arrest [drunk drivers]," said Kekana.

Kekana said the R1 million state-of-the-art centre would boost the province's prosecution rate of those arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol.

"We say this without any shadow of doubt because the centre is equipped with all the necessary resources required by our courts to accurately and efficiently determine the alcohol level of a person suspected of driving under the influence of the 'foamy waters,'" she said.

Kekana said the centre was opened before the department launches its Easter Arrive Alive campaign on Friday.

She warned that all traffic officers will be out in full force during the Easter campaign, which will include an operation known as Operation Dumbu (meaning thunder).

"We will utilise all our marked and unmarked vehicles as well as the Moving Violation Recorders and the Automated Number Plate Recognition vehicles," she said.

Kekana said the department would build four more centres during the 2011/2012 financial year, which will cover Mokopane, Thohoyandou, Tzaneen and the Sekhukhune area.

She also praised the South African Breweries (SAB) for coming up with the initiative. "This is a very brave step because the SAB is funding this project so that we can ensure their customers drink within the limit or responsibly. They have clearly demonstrated that they put the lives of their customers before profits," she said. 

SAB Director of Corporate Affairs and Transformation, Vincent Maphai, said the drive to open the centres began in November 2008 and saw 10 centres being established in various provinces at the cost of R1 million each.

He said the AEC strategy had made a difference in addressing the negative consequences of alcohol abuse.

"Lower blood alcohol concentration limits and stricter enforcement have been proven around the world to reduce the number of accidents and fatalities linked to drinking and driving. South Africans must realise that if you are going to drink, you cannot drive," said Maphai.

Kekana added that no motorists would be given an admission of guilt fine if they are caught driving under the influence of alcohol above the legal limit of 0.24mg of alcohol per 1000ml. 

She said a total of 53 road accidents in Limpopo were caused by drivers under the influence in the 2010/11 financial year. - BuaNews