One beer and you’re out for driv­ers

The govern­ment is aim­ing for 0% blood al­co­hol level con­cen­tra­tion af­flu­ence End of an era as Posen folds

Saturday Star - - FRONT PAGE -

NOR­MAN CLOETE AND KARISHMA DIPA

HAV­ING just one drink and get­ting be­hind the wheel of a car might be just one too many.

As the fes­tive sea­son ap­proaches, the na­tional Trans­port De­part­ment is con­sid­er­ing re­duc­ing the blood al­co­hol con­cen­tra­tion (BAC) level to 0%. If passed, this will be­come part of the Ad­min­is­tra­tive Ad­ju­di­ca­tion of Road Traf­fic Of­fences (Aarto) sys­tem, which will pe­nalise driv­ers for a host of traf­fic in­fringe­ments.

Spokesper­son Ayanda Al­lie-paine said the pro­posal to drop the blood al­co­hol con­cen­tra­tion to 0% is part of a re­view process, which in­cludes re­duc­ing the speed limit, and is among the in­ter­ven­tions which have been di­rected to the Road Traf­fic Man­age­ment Cor­po­ra­tion to study.

Dur­ing Trans­port Month, Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa in­di­cated the le­gal limit for al­co­hol in the blood of driv­ers will be low­ered as 14 000 peo­ple are killed an­nu­ally and R140 bil­lion is lost each year.

“We are go­ing to change the law now to make sure we ac­tu­ally bring down the thresh­old so those who are used to drink­ing and driv­ing will know that now we are go­ing to be very firm.

“We are go­ing to take strong ac­tion be­cause it is peo­ple who drink and drive who kill peo­ple and we must stop the killing on our roads through peo­ple who are drink­ing and driv­ing,” he said.

Writ­ing in the Daily Mav­er­ick last month, Pro­fes­sor Charles Parry, di­rec­tor of the al­co­hol, to­bacco and other drug re­search unit of the SA Med­i­cal Re­search Coun­cil, said “se­ri­ous con­sid­er­a­tion should be given to en­act­ing the 2015 leg­is­la­tion re­duc­ing per­mis­si­ble BAC lev­els to zero” as the coun­try “would ex­pe­ri­ence fewer fa­tal­i­ties on our roads, lower in­sur­ance pre­mi­ums, and a re­duced drain on the fis­cus”.

Caro Smit of South Africans Against Drunk Driv­ing said that while she sup­ports any ini­tia­tives to keep the coun­try’s mo­torists safe, she does not be­lieve that low­er­ing the blood al­co­hol level is the an­swer. Smit said that the coun­try’s BAC level was ini­tially 0.08g/per 100ml and was then changed to 0.05g.

“This change has not led to a de­crease in drunk driv­ing.”

Smit, does how­ever, be­lieve that the level should be low­ered for novice driv­ers, who re­cently got their driv­ing

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