Save a life! Don’t drink and drive

Save a life! Don’t drink and drive

Every year, an estimated 1.2 million people die in traffic accidents worldwide, and evidence suggests that alcohol abuse often plays a major role.

A study conducted by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research in 2012 revealed that about 23.3% of drivers in fatal accidents were tested positive for being under the influence of alcohol.

Between 2010 and 2015, 618 deaths were recorded caused by drunk drivers. Based on the current scenario, the number could go higher.

Statistics show that a drunk driver is 13 times more likely to cause an accident compared to a sober one. Here are some infamous cases which happened in Malaysia.

Chronology of events witnessed that the worst tragedy happened in Penang, which claimed the life of Penang City Council public health assistant Mohaidin Gani Mohamad. The tragic death sparked debate on the need for alcohol curfew and improvement on public policy to prevent similar occurrences.

On Sunday, a drunk driver rammed his Perodua Alza into the rear of a motorcycle, killing the rider and seriously injuring the pillion passenger.

Yesterday, a factory worker was killed and his wife seriously injured after their motorcycle was hit from behind by a car driven by a man believed to be drunk at Km140.2 of the North-South Expressway (northbound), near the exit to Perai.

And today, another drunk driver killed two youths in Penang.

The car, driven by a woman, rear-ended a motorcycle, killing its two passengers, at Km13 of the Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR), heading towards Sungai Dua.

The deceased were identified as Muhamad Syaiful Hilmi Rosidi, 21, and Muhammad Amin Najmi Azaman, 19.

All these cases would have devastated the victims’ family. They paid a heavy price just because someone irresponsible wanted to have a good time.

The question now is, do we have effective anti-drunk driving programmes in place? Or is there any other pro-active measures taken by the Road Transport Department to reduce traffic deaths and accidents? And how often do our traffic police conduct checks on drivers for alcohol abuse?

As mentioned earlier, drunk drivers do cause a lot of traffic accidents. However, we have to admit that enforcement agencies do have a tough time clamping down on these irresponsible motorists due to insufficient manpower and lack of technological support.

Here are some suggestions on how to prevent our road users from becoming victims of drunk drivers:

1. The frequency of roadblocks: Enforcement agencies should carry out roadblocks at least three nights a week. Police stations should set up roadblocks randomly on separate locations frequently.

2. The location of the roadblocks: To test the effectiveness of surprise checks at random locations compared to fixed checkpoints, police stations should be randomly assigned to hold their roadblocks at either:

  • The “best” location for catching drunk drivers, selected by the local police chief, on the same day every week, or
  • One of three “best” locations for catching drunk drivers, again chosen by the local police chief, with each night’s location chosen at random.

3. Most importantly, do not drink and drive. It does not only endanger your life, it also endangers other people. Get a friend to call you a Grab or taxi to go home if you are too sloshed to drive. If you know anyone who has problems with alcohol, you can direct them to Alcoholics Anonymous Malaysia’s website here. It is an organisation dedicated to helping people who are addicted to alcohol.

4. “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk,”. If you know someone who has been drinking or is intoxicated, and they are about to drive, you have a personal responsibility to intervene. It is your responsibility not just as a friend or family member, but as a member of your community. Your decision to intervene could save lives.

If you have a friend or loved one who drives while high on alcohol, talk to them about it. Confront them, tell them about the stats. Do it sooner rather than later. Do not wait until it is too late.

‘Social responsibility’

An impaired person driving a motor vehicle is quite literally wielding a deadly weapon. If you have the opportunity to prevent potential injury or death, you should take it.  If you spot a drunk driver, take note of the driver’s plate number, the model and colour of his car and which direction he is heading. Report the matter to the nearest police station.

At the same time, maintain a safe distance from the drunk driver. No one can predict what an intoxicated person could do. So, do not follow to close and call the police after pulling over at the side of the road.

In terms of legislation, it is also time for the government to impose harsher punishment to drunk drivers, especially those who caused the death of another due to their irresponsible decision.

As for Malaysia, the Penal Code imposes a fine of up to RM20,000, or a jail time of up to 10 years, or both, for drunk drivers who cause death.

Many are now asking for the law to be amended, to allow harsher punishment against drunk drivers.

But at the end of the day, we can raise awareness and impose harsher punishments against drunk drivers all the way t but it will not solve the problem if motorists do not use their common sense while on the road.

And the message is simple people, just don’t drink and drive!

Hema Subramaniam is Editor in Chief at The Leaders

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drunk drivingfatal accidentssave a life