By CAROL MATROO Thursday, July 16 2015
Drunk driving: A youth drinking while driving. TT police report students account for most DUI arrests….
Young drivers were more at risk of having a road vehicular accident, especially when they have been drinking and speeding. In fact, close to 50 percent of persons arrested for driving under the influence (DUI) were 18 to 30 years.
Road safety coordinator for the Police Service, Brent Batson, said most of them were students.
“We know it’s summer time and everybody is having a good time, but we really have to get the point across to everybody that the police are out there enforcing this, the consequences of failing the breathalyser and going over the legal limit.
“We want to remind the young people that this is arrest without warrant. We still have the young drivers during road blocks asking how much is the ticket, and if they could leave. They get the shock of their lives when they are handcuffed and brought into the station for finger printing and photographing,” Batson told reporters, yesterday, during a weekly police briefing at Police Administration building, Sackille Street, Port-of-Spain.
Batson said they do not know what implications these arrests would have later on in their life because they now have a police record.
He said to date 78 people have lost their lives on the roads compared to 91 last year, which was a 14 per cent decrease in road traffic deaths; as to fatal road traffic deaths, there have been 68 so far for this year, compared to 82 for the same time last year, a 17 per cent decrease.
Batson noted that 88 per cent of all road traffic deaths for the last five-year period were people 18 to 34 during the period July to August, spikes that were consistent with summer vacation.
“We want to remind young drivers that they continue to fall within that net of high risk road users. Young drivers with alcohol is always a recipe for disaster,” he said.
Batson noted that most post-university students already owned, or were given their new cars, and were not always surrounded by those who had bought into the culture of not drinking and driving.
He noted the draft legislation for the Motor Vehicle Authority was supposed to include a new requirement for zero alcohol for new drivers, but the bill did not pass, therefore young drivers still had that leeway for up to 35 microgrammes. That meant the risk imposed on young drivers was high risk.
Batson said research has shown a teenage driver’s risk of injury and death increased when there was one or more passengers under the age of 21 in the vehicle. In fact, the risk doubled with one passenger and quadrupled with three or more young passengers.
However, he said the driver’s risk of injury decreased by 62 per cent if an adult was present.
“We are appealing to parents whose children were now going for their licences, take some time and go on the road with them. Yes, they took their driver’s lessons, yes, they got a driver’s permit, but they are not drivers as yet. “It requires parents to understand what they present for you might not be the way they drive with their friends. You have to know who these friends are. You have to know if the friends would be drinking when they go to parties, you have to have that conversation with them. Supervised driving is something we recommend when everybody is relaxing and taking a break from studying,” Batson said.
Batson also said club owners needed to enforce the laws regarding the age of persons entering their clubs. He said the police still received many reports on underage drinking, despite the law that persons under the age of 18 were not to be served alcohol.
“The police cannot be in every single club, but what is important is that persons have to understand that this person drove up to your establishment and is on their fourth shot of rum, and you know they are going to drive when they leave.
“They need to be responsible for sending an alcohol impaired driver on the roadway. We do not have that legislation as yet, what they call ‘ask legislation’ where the bartender is required to ask the person whether they were driving, and the right to refuse service as well, which the owners do have the right to do,” Batson said.