Or Yarok calls for tough action on drunk driving

85% of Israelis beileve the law should show zero tolerance toward drivers under 21 who have any alcohol in their blood.

By MARISSA LEVY
October 15, 2007 22:09
2 minute read.
car accident 88

car accident 88. (photo credit: )

 
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Eighty-five percent of Israelis believe the law should show zero tolerance toward drivers under 21 who have any alcohol in their blood, according to a survey released Monday by the Or Yarok road safety organization. The survey of attitudes toward drunk driving supplements Or Yarok's "White Paper," a list of recommendations aimed at reducing the phenomenon. At least 15% of traffic accidents in Israel are caused by drivers under the influence of alcohol, according to the Danek Gertner Institute. But that number only includes people involved in collisions. The real figure is higher, said Or Yarok spokesman Aharon Latitot. The 15-page White Paper is addressed to the Transportation Ministry's National Road Safety Authority and includes recommendations based on measures used in countries that have successfully lowered drunk driving, such as Sweden, Australia and The Netherlands. Or Yarok said the authority should take the lead and create a comprehensive, long-term plan to battle drunk driving. The authority should also step up its collection of data from traffic accidents that involve alcohol, create a comprehensive database of the information and make it public, Or Yarok said. The White Paper calls for tighter laws on drunk driving, including swifter punishment for lawbreakers. According to the recommendations, the government should:

  • Make it illegal to have any alcohol in your bloodstream for: drivers under 21; public transportation drivers, heavy truck drivers and people who've been convicted of a drunk driving offence.
  • Ensure that breathalyzer results can be admitted as evidence in court.
  • Anchor the maximum legal blood alcohol content for drivers, 0.05%, in law rather than in regulation, as is currently the case.
  • Have the Israel Police increase random alcohol checks and ensure that 33% of drivers are tested each year
  • Publicize these efforts in an intensive campaign and warn drivers that drunk driving laws will be fully enforced, which includes towing the cars of violators and suspending their drivers' licenses. "Surprisingly, more people are deterred [from drunk driving] by the chance of being caught than by the odds of being injured in an accident," said Latitot. "The best solution to the problem is to make sure that nobody will think about sitting behind the wheel after drinking alcohol." The public awareness campaign should also explain the dangers of driving under the influence and suggest ways that people can avoid it, such as the use of a designated [sober] driver or public transportation. "We want to make it socially unacceptable to drink and drive," said Or Yarok in the press release announcing the White Paper and accompanying survey of 515 people. The survey found that 75% of Israelis don't respect people who drink and drive; 2% said they did respect such drivers. "Things have begun to change in the last year thanks to increasing public awareness," Latitot said. "The social acceptance of drunk driving is much lower than one would have thought."

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