Drinking and Driving: A Fatal Combination
If you drink and drive, you are a bloody
Donít drink then drive.
Drinking and driving costs lives.
Alcohol is a drug that affects the central nervous system, resulting in
cognitive and psychomotor impairment. It is also a drug that is readily
available and socially acceptable, in spite of the consequences of excessive
usage. This irresponsible behaviour results in a significant burden on the
public health and welfare systems, as well as on social and family relationships
and on fatalities.
In spite of legislation which allows courts to hand out fines of up to
R120,000 as well as long prison sentences, we still experience high figures of
alcohol abuse on our roads. Approximately 7% of drivers and 14% of pedestrians
are over the legal limit during the night-time hours. The consequences of using
the road when under the influence of alcohol are serious. Besides the
possibility of death or serious injury, the fine and prison sentence, you are
left with a criminal record, and may also cost the life of an innocent person,
or a permanent disabling injury to a loved one. Imagine being responsible for
the paralysis of your own child, through your own irresponsible behaviour.
The level of alcohol in your blood can depend on many factors including body
size, gender and general health. More than one drink every hour (one glass of
wine, one normal beer, one tot of spirits) will probably put you over the legal
limit. You can feel quite sober, and still have cognitive function and sight
affected, which will affect your ability to drive safely.
Even one alcoholic drink DOUBLES the chances of involvement in a road crash,
if you are a driver. The change of having a crash at the legal limit is
approximately five times that when sober. Drinking alcohol has equally serious
consequences for pedestrians, and the vast majority of the four thousand
pedestrians killed on South Africans roads annually are drunk.
It is estimated that nearly half of the deaths which occur on the roads of
KwaZulu Natal annually, are related to alcohol and drug abuse. This leads to the
unnecessary loss of almost a thousand lives, directly affecting many thousands
As a society we need to make sure that our community knows and understands
and drinking and driving are unacceptable. We need to raise awareness of the
consequences of such behaviour, and protect our friends and relatives from
driving when drunk.
If you are planning to drink alcohol, or take drugs, make plans to take a
taxi home, get somebody else to drive you, stay where you are until REALLY
sober, call home and be fetched. But donít mix drinking and driving ... it
could have fatal consequences.