Drunk drivers beware

JOHANNESBURG now has two alcohol testing centres to help "wrap up drunk driving cases sooner" and make the roads safer.

The first alcohol testing centre at the Johannesburg Metro Police Department (JMPD) headquarters at Village Road, opened last year, and now the Randburg centre is fully operational.

The SA Insurance Association (SAIA), Business Against Crime SA (BACSA) and JMPD financed the centre.

SAIA chairperson, Ronnie Napier, says: "Motor insurance is under pressure, with about 70 percent of claims being road accident-related. Alcohol is a factor in many cases.

"We hope this centre will help to curb lawlessness on the roads," BACSA deputy chairperson Siphiwe Nzimande said.

Napier said about 36 people died in road accidents every day at a staggering cost to society of about R38bn a year.

"Vehicle crime is no longer the major worry for insurers. Instead, road safety is a bigger concern," Napier said. "In fact, in instances where alcohol testing is done about 80 percent of the claims are rejected."

The results of breathalyser testing can now be made immediately available and drunk driving cases can be wrapped up much sooner.

"First, officers take a breath reading from the portable 'alco-meter'. If it is positive the suspect is taken to the testing station to get a more accurate reading on the 'drager-meter'," JMPD spokesperson Edna Mamonyane said.

On average between 30 and 50 people are arrested on weekends for drunk driving.