To stem the expected tide of road crashes and injuries, the Association for Alcohol Responsibility and Education (aware.org) and it’s industry members, in partnership with the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) and the Department of Transport (DoT) have launched a comprehensive 2020 National Road Safety Campaign.
The new national festive campaign “It’s not just about you” appeals to citizens’ greater sense of responsibility to their loved ones and their fellow South Africans as a whole, and the resultant impact of road fatalities on those left behind.
“Unfortunately, in South Africa, December is well-known for people drinking irresponsibly and the associated alcohol-related harm. While there is no shortage of efforts to curb this behaviour, people generally resist being told what to do as many might perceive their freedoms as being curtailed. Through this strong partnership of diverse resources and interests, and by focusing on consumers’ genuine care for those closest to them, we aim to substantially address harm on our roads caused as a result of alcohol abuse and misuse,” says Ingrid Louw, CEO of aware.org.
A 2020 Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC) report on driver intoxication estimates that driver alcohol intoxication is involved in over 27% of fatal crashes.
“We need to continue to be vigilant when it comes to the relentless scourge of drinking and driving/walking on South African roads and in communities, especially during the festive season,” says RTMC CEO, Advocate Makhosini Msibi. “This requires a multifaceted stakeholder effort that involves a combination of visible law enforcement, a national education drive and a call to action, which includes the provision of safer alternatives to getting home safely, such as using a designated driver or allowing a CPF (Community Policing Forum) patroller to walk you home safely.”
“Over the past year, the number of deaths in road crashes during the festive has come down. However, fatalities remain stubbornly high and with the ravaging effects of Covid-19 still affecting the economy and communities, we need to take drastic action,” says Msibi.
The 2020 National Road Safety Campaign is a collective effort by government, industry, civil society, traders, and communities which represents a social compact to address alcohol-related harm in South Africa head-on. Key focus pillars of this social compact include drinking and driving/walking, underage drinking, responsible trading and marketing, and binge drinking.
The campaign is supported by upscaled on-the-ground activations and interventions aimed to send the powerful message that even whilst drinking and driving/walking alone, you take the hopes and dreams of those close to you along for the ride.
“We all have to come together as citizens and institutions to ensure that our roads are safe for travellers and their loved ones as we grapple with the pandemic and the necessary protection of our citizens,” concludes Louw.
Furthermore, motorists across the country are urged to adhere to the following guidelines when traveling:
- Plan your journey. Always prefer to travel during the day
- Drive with care. Always stay under the speed limits, avoid overtaking and be cognisant of bad weather conditions. Ensure you can see the road clearly, vehicle roadworthiness is essential, be visible and remember you share road space.
- Drive Sober. No intoxicants of any kind and never drive after drinking.
- Drive secure. Everyone in your vehicle must be wearing a seatbelt, small children should be in a proper child restraint.
- No cell phones. Do not take texts or calls while driving and stay focused on the road.
- Stay sharp. Take regular breaks and never drive tired, stressed or on medication that affects driving.
- Respect COVID-19 guidelines. Sanitise, social distance, always wear a mask. If you are in a vehicle and not alone, you are required to have your mask on at all times.
In a research study conducted alongside the marketing campaign, aware.org surveyed hundreds of South African motorists.
The survey revealed that 66% of respondents admitted to driving while over the legal blood alcohol limit at least once a month, and 40% reported doing so weekly. Offenders reported using various means to evade penalties, including bribery, negotiation, sudden U-turns, insider knowledge and waiting out potential roadblocks.
The Government recently announced proposed amendments to the National Road Traffic Act, stipulating a legal driver alcohol limit of zero percent. This means that any amount of detectable alcohol found in a driver’s system, which impairs the nervous system, could attract imprisonment, fines, or the suspension of a driver’s licence, depending on the severity of the offence.
Currently, the legal alcohol drinking limit allows for no more than 0.05 grams per every 100 millilitres of blood for drivers. The breath alcohol content must not exceed 0,24 milligrams per 1000 millilitres.
However, officials in KwaZulu-Natal have a zero-tolerance policy to drinking and driving, which is also in line with aware.org’s stance on drinking and driving, stating that no amount of alcohol at all should be consumed when driving.