'JAIL DRUNK DRIVERS'
IF THE KwaZulu-Natal MEC for transport has his way, cancellation of a driver's licence or jail will become mandatory for drunken driving convictions.
Fired-up MEC Willies Mchunu was speaking yesterday at the launch of the 2010 Easter Holiday Road Safety Programme.
At the same time he launched the alcohol evidence centre.
The centre was sponsored by an alcohol company to the tune of R1million for KwaZulu-Natal. Three other centres were sponsored for the rest of the country.
"Suspension, endorsement or cancellation of one's driver's licence (should) become a compulsory part of the sentence if an accused is found guilty of drunken driving," Mchunu said at the launch of the 2010 Easter road safety holiday campaign.
He said his department was calling for an amendment to the national law so driver's licences could be removed when a person was convicted of drunken driving.
"We want to make life very tough for drunkards and make our roads much safer," Mchunu said.
"This means that the suspension, endorsement or cancellation of one's driver's'licence will become a compulsory part of the sentence if an accused is found guilty of drunken driving," Mchunu said.
"We will lobby extensively to have amendments effected and ready for the 2010 festive season.
"We have also asked this team to further investigate all the latest technological advances that can be used to reign in drunk drivers.
"Once the task team makes its final report, a summit of all affected stakeholders will be convened to ensure maximum input and finality on this matter," Mchunu said.
Mchunu said in 2008 alone 900 000 road accidents were reported to the SAPS.
"Of this, at least 150 000 people were injured, about 60 000 hospitalized and 14 500 died. During the 2009 Easter weekend, 31 crashes resulted in 37 deaths in KZN.
"The arrogance of drivers derives from the knowledge by these lawbreakers that they will be fined and not jailed," Mchunu said.
He said after paying their fines culprits continue to drive their cars freely. They might even be involved in more lawbreaking and, if caught, the process would be the same - arrested and fined.
He said their research indicated that an estimated 50percent of people who die on South African roads have a blood alcohol concentration level above 0,05g per 100 millilitres - the maximum legal blood alcohol limit for a private motorist, while for drivers of "public" vehicles such as taxis and buses the limit is 0.02g."
SAB's Vincent Maphai, who also attended the event, said the beer giant would work closely with road traffic enforcement agencies to root out drunken driving.
SAB has committed R4 million to supply four AECs across South Africa with equipment, including Dräger Alcotest breathalysers and a closed-circuit television network to monitor the testing process.
The breathalyser can take an instant and accurate reading of the amount of alcohol in an individual's bloodstream which can be used as evidence to secure a conviction.