Drunk driving the major offender

As an organisation dedicated to consistent reduction in road fatalities, MasterDrive sees the loss of 25 less lives this Festive Season as a step in the right direction. This 1.7% paired with the decrease from last year shows a promising downward turn in lives lost on our roads.

The CEO of MasterDrive, Eugene Herbert, says there is, however, merit to concern this is not good enough. “Despite the decrease, 1 427 people still died on our roads. This is simply too many lives. While we should take encouragement from this, it should not be lauded as a great achievement.

“Transport Minister Sindisiwe Chikunga attributed over 80% of crashes to human error. One of these ‘human errors’ was driving under the influence. In a recent radio interview, it was said alcohol was more at blame for crashes than speed.”

Irrespective of which is the bigger offender, both are behaviours requiring change of mindsets to effect significant and tangible change. “The possible reasons drunk driving was a concern is because two of the weeks with the highest crash rates were when drivers were likely having end-of-year parties and celebrating the holidays. Additionally, the number of arrests for driving under the influence may have been high.”

With extensive campaigns across industries against drunk driving, when will South Africans take drinking and driving seriously? “The calls for greater police presence may be one way. Yet, it is also possible that a greater presence alone is not enough with the prevalence of bribery.

MasterDrive always recommends taking responsibility for one’s own actions. Stopping police from accepting bribes is neither possible nor the responsibility of the individual. One does, however, have power to change is their own behaviour. The lack of concern about getting behind the wheel under the influence, particularly because you can bribe your way out of it plays a  major role.”

It is also the AARTO Act that has potential to affect greater change. “AARTO’s implementation has been mired in controversy because of concerns of corruption and bribery. This overshadows the potential of the Act to inspire real change in drivers with very real and damaging consequences for driving drunk.

“The suspension of your license for a few months for drinking and driving on just two occasions should motivate drivers to seriously reconsider this behaviour, if the chance you may be responsible for loss of life does not.”

The tragedy on South African roads because of drinking and driving is a major driving force in MasterDrive’s awareness campaigns. “In 2022 MasterDrive started their ‘Drive the Influence’ pledge against drinking and driving. Individuals and organisations can sign this pledge committing to never drink and drive. Another popular awareness tool our ‘drunk goggles’ which show drivers what you see while intoxicated from a sober perspective.

“If drinking and driving was the leading cause of crashes this Festive Season, let this motivate you to never drink and drive if you have not already made that commitment. Make the decision now by signing MasterDrive’s pledges before you enter a court room guilty and regretful,” says Herbert.