Alcohol continues to play a major role in road deaths, particularly pedestrians
A total of 670 people died as a result of a road traffic injury in the Western Cape so far this year, according to provincial Department of Health Forensic Pathology Services. Another 46 deaths currently under investigation may also have been a result of road crashes. Given the trend established in the period 2013 to 2015, it is likely that many of these deaths are linked to the use of alcohol, and that most of the deceased were pedestrians.
About 55% of the road traffic fatalities between January and June 2016 occurred between midnight on Friday and 6am on Monday morning, a time when many people use alcohol. Blood alcohol test results for 2 230 people who died on the road between 2013 and 2015 showed that over half (1 173 or 52%) had been drinking. Of the group that tested positive for alcohol, 1 074 had more than 0,05 g of alcohol per 100 ml of blood (the legal limit for drivers), and 584 had 0,2 g or more. A person with 0,2 g of alcohol per 100 ml of blood is four times over the legal limit for drivers, and is likely to have consumed ten or more alcoholic beverages (e.g. ten bottles of beer or ten glasses of wine).
“The most worrying feature of the tidal wave of alcohol abuse on the road is the number of pedestrians who are being killed with extremely high levels of alcohol in their blood,” said Donald Grant, Minister of Transport and Public Works.
“From our sample from 2013 to 2015, 366, or 62,6% of the 584 persons whose post-mortem blood tests came back over 0,2 g were pedestrians. This trend seems to be continuing in 2016, with pedestrian traffic fatalities bucking the overall downward trend of deaths among drivers and passengers. There are also worrying numbers of cyclists and motorcyclists taking their lives into their hands on the road while heavily intoxicated. The bottom line is that alcohol and the roads do not mix, regardless of if you are walking, driving or riding a bicycle.
“Drivers who continue to heedlessly risk their lives and the lives of other citizens, who destroy taxpayer-funded infrastructure, and who drag policing resources away from attending to other crimes are reminded that the Dräger breathalyser will be coming back into operation on 1 August 2016,” added Minister Grant.
Provincial Traffic Services will continue to work around the clock to help create safer, booze-free roads. Traffic officers will not hesitate to test drivers who are suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, and arrest them if necessary. Drivers under the influence put their own lives and those of their passengers in danger, as well as the lives of other road users. If you’re drinking, don’t drive. Help us create booze-free roads. If you have friends or family who still drive under the influence, speak to them before they get into trouble with the law.
This July, join Safely Home, Provincial Traffic Services and their partners across government, business and civil society by calling on road users off our roads for good. Watch out for road safety messages on the Variable Message Signs system.