Drunk Drivers and Bad Driving becoming Major Contributors to Road Fatalities

As part of its support for Transport Month, the Automobile Association has identified several key factors aimed at empowering motorists recognise potentially dangerous drivers and in the process learn how to avoid situations that could cause harm to them and their families.  

Gary Ronald, head of Public Affairs at the AA says, “It is important for road users to be constantly aware of the environment around them all the time while they are driving. They should learn to spot dangerous drivers and keep clear of them. No matter how severely you may be provoked, resist the temptation to retaliate, which may result in anything from a collision to a shooting match,”

The AA urges motorists to be especially wary when driving near any of the following:

  • Any vehicle in which the driver’s range of vision is limited - such as a fully laden truck with no side mirror
  • A vehicle that “wanders” about the road - it could be a faulty steering or suspension, or the driver may be drunk or sleepy
  •  Any vehicle that is dirty, rusty, missing body parts or with a badly smoking exhaust - it is probably in poor overall mechanical condition
  • A truck with a badly packed or unsecured load, or a car with a bulky load on the roof rack - the load, or part of it, may come adrift.
  • A car containing active children and pets - the driver may not be concentrating on the road. 
  •  A car with stickers on the windows, piles of luggage, and a large number of passengers - the driver’s vision is probably obscured.
  • A vehicle with a driver who does not appear to be giving his full attention to the road.

“Remember, if you cannot see the mirrors of the vehicle in front of you, that driver can’t see you,” adds Ronald.

  • The following are times of the day, and of the week, when accidents occur more frequently:
  • Between dusk and dawn.
  • During morning and evening peak periods.
  • At “closing time” for bars, hotels and clubs.
  • Late in the week and at weekends when the use of alcohol increases.
  • On public holidays and weekends when many motorists are paying more attention to sightseeing than to proper driving.


A few facts about alcohol and driving:
• As all licensed drivers should know, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.   
• The maximum blood alcohol limit is 0.05mg per 100ml blood or 0.24 milligram /1 000 millilitre of breath.
• Because the printout of a breathalyser is admissible as evidence in court, drivers can be tried within hours, as there are no court delays waiting for the result of blood tests. 
• If you are apprehended and found to be over the legal limit, you do not have an option of paying a fine.  You will be arrested and taken to a police station, where you will be booked and locked up in a police holding cell with other criminals.  You will only be charged when you are sober. 
• The maximum punishment for drinking and driving is R120 000 and/or 6 years imprisonment. 
• You will get a criminal record, which will count against you for the rest of your life. Your driving license can also be suspended.

“Alcohol affects our vision, judgment, balance and reaction time.  Because even one drink can affect you, it is advisable not to drink and drive at all,” adds Ronald.

Stats reveal that:

  • One in every fifteen drivers on the road in the evenings is over the limit
  •  More than half of all pedestrians killed in 2008 had been drinking
  •  Morning rush hour bumper bashings are likely as a result of the previous nights’ drinking
  •  The cost of crashes to the economy in 2009 has been calculated at R116 billion

“There is no way to sober up quickly.  It is a fallacy that showers and black coffee will make you sober.  Your liver has to dissipate the alcohol in your body, which happens at a rate 0.02 mg per hour.
“If you are involved in a crash while you are under the influence, it will impact on your insurance payouts.  Because you have committed an illegal act by driving under the influence, short-term insurers, life insurers and the Road Accident Fund can refuse to pay out claims,” he says. 

Automobile Association of South Africa (AA)
011 799 1180

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