Poll: Up to 20% of Israelis admit to drunk driving

According to the survey, the demand for alcohol in Israel has risen 25% since 2001.

alcohol image 88 (photo credit:)
alcohol image 88
(photo credit: )
Between 10 percent and 20% of Israelis admit to driving under the influence of alcohol, the Or Yarok association announced on Monday, citing a survey conducted by the World Health Organization. According to the survey, which polled a sample of 502, the demand for alcohol in Israel has risen 25% since 2001, Or Yarok CEO Shmuel Abuav said. He called the amount of drunk driving "very worrisome." "We see the use of alcohol growing in Israel this year," said Abuav. "Alcohol makes you lose your coordination and your reason is impaired, so you make many mistakes. You can't make people stop drinking, but if you want to go out, you should always have a designated driver." Prior to 2008, the Israel Police conducted 205,555 random checks for alcohol each year. However, because of the increased usage of alcohol, it is estimated the police will perform 300,000 checks by the end of the year. Or Yarok, which works to reduce the number of traffic accident casualties and change the Israeli driving culture, hopes to raise the number of random police checks to one million, the group's spokesman Aharon Lapidot told The Jerusalem Post on Monday. "There is a very big impact on the driver if he knows he cannot drive because the police will catch him," Lapidot said. "People are more afraid to get caught than to get in an accident." A spokesperson for the Traffic Police said the police hoped to continue to increase the number of random checks, but would not be able to reach one million checks without additional funding. "To do one million checks, you need a lot of money and you need more than 200 police cars. The more police, the more checks we will do," he said. This year the police have confiscated 2,263 cars of intoxicated drivers, and 15% of drivers killed in accidents are found with alcohol in their systems, according to a survey done by the Gaertner Institute. Abuav said many of the accidents were the result of young adults driving too fast while under the influence. "Last weekend a new driver was going 180 kilometers per hour under the influence of alcohol," he said. Due to the volatility of young drivers, Or Yarok is lobbying the Knesset to lower the allowed blood alcohol level from 0.05 to zero for people under the age of 24. "We hope that this will raise public awareness to the problem and that parents will do all they can to decrease their kids' access to alcohol when driving. Unfortunately it's a problem that costs lives," Lapidot said.