This year serious concern has been voiced over the continued tendency to drink and drive. The Transport Minister is one of the people concerned about this habit and is proposing changing drinking and driving to a schedule five offence, which is the same category under which murder falls.
The Managing Director of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, said while he commends this step, he is not convinced it will bring about big enough change, fast enough.
“The move to change the blood alcohol level to 0%, which was started almost two years ago, still has not come to fruition. I believe the greatest potential to bring about real change lies in changing mindsets of drivers. Yet, this still remains the biggest challenge to reducing drinking and driving,” Herbert said.
An example of the need to change mindsets was seen over the December holiday period. All road safety experts would recommend taking a break while en route to Durban.
“None of them, however, would recommend drinking during this break,” he added.
“A colleague of mine works as a paramedic in the Van Reenen’s Pass area during the holiday season. He said drivers who stop along their route, open their boots and enjoy some whisky in the middle of their trip. This is becoming somewhat of a tradition for many South Africans. In fact, some people have converted their boots into fridges.”
Herbert added that the subsequent devastation this caused on the roads over the festive season was indescribable. Along with high speeds, reckless driving for the conditions and unroadworthy vehicles, the carnage on that stretch of road was the worst his colleague saw in his 34 years of working there.
While more severe legislation is one very important part of dealing with this blight on our society, members of the society need to play a role as well.
“We need to emphasise to as many people as possible that every tragic drunken driving crash, every night spent in jail for drinking and driving and every life destroyed starts with a decision. The decision to drink and drive,” Herbert said.
“This is a link to a video I came across a while ago which spoke very loudly to me about the consequences when drivers make the wrong choice.”
MasterDrive is an Advanced Driver training company up-skilling in excess of 1500 candidates monthly.