"Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Then Drive"

Winner of a Prince Michael International Road Safety Award 2012

Comment on proposed U21 drinking age law

 

 

"South Africans Against Drunk Driving (SADD) and 130 other world-wide NGOs work with World Health Organization (W.H.O) and belong to the “Global Alliance of NGOs Advocating for Road Safety and Road Victims." SADD are committed to follow W.H.O.’s advice and promote Best Practice methods of bring down harm from alcohol abuse.
SADD are supportive of the plan to change the drinking age to 21 in South Africa, as well as most of the other plans to curb alcohol abuse like banning alcohol advertising and making bar workers more liable if they serve intoxicated patrons who then crash.


Research by W.H.O. shows raising the drinking age to 21 is but one way of bringing down these preventable deaths - others being a zero alcohol limit for graduated drivers for 2 years - irrespective of their age -banning advertising- restricting hours of sale of alcohol - raising the cost of alcohol- not serving intoxicated patrons and the server being held accountable if that patron then has a crash.


The cost to our economy of alcohol abuse is usually grossly miscalculated.


If you look at the cost from crashes alone it was R189, 144,000,000, i.e. R189 Billion in 2009.
(Alcohol abuse is behind 65% deaths on our roads. There were 17 077 deaths in 2009. (Ref: MRC.)
11 100 deaths, at a cost of R189, 144,000,000 to our economy. (Calculated at $1,420,000 per death as per http://www.nsc.org/news_resources/injury_and_death_statistics/Pages/EstimatingtheCostsofUnintentionalInjuries.aspx)
This is not taking into account all the costs from alcohol abuse to those injured (Nonfatal Disabling Injury $78,700) or to the emotional costs to families.


Alcohol abuse is out of control in South Africa, so we need to follow W.H.O's best practice advice and have very strict laws that are enforced, if we are going to reduce the harm caused by excessive drinking."

Other information you may want to include:
Patterns of Drinking in SA. Global status report on alcohol and health 2014 (Ref :
http://www.who.int/substance_abuse/publications/global_alcohol_report/en/ )
SA has one of the highest alcohol per capita drinking rates in the world. Average global intake of alcohol is 6.2 litres per adult over age of 15. In South Africa the intake is 11 litres.
In W.H.O.’s “Patterns of drinking scores, 2010, SA scores 4. (With 1: Least Risky and 5: Most Risky.) Many people engage in heavy episodic drinking; have prolonged periods of drinking e.g. from morning until night over weekends; drink without eating; drink till they pass out; drink then drive/walk, etc.
In addition 59.4% of our population are abstainers, so that means those who do drink, drink excessively and in a manner that is harmful.


“Given the relatively larger child populations in our country, removing the child population from the ratio measures would show much higher rates for our country.” Dr Anesh Sukhai (MRC-UNISA Violence, Injury & Peace Research Unit.)

Alcohol abuse costs SA a great deal to the Health system and elsewhere.


Many of the problems which cost SA in the health system,and else where are those which are a direct result of alcohol abuse. These can include interpersonal violence; alcohol poisoning; academic underachieving or failure; unwanted pregnancies; rape; health problems –gastritis, ulcers, increase in various cancers, diabetes; drink driving/walking and the resultant deaths or injuries from crashes or impulsive behaviours committed whilst intoxicated.
South Africans Against Drunk Driving (SADD) agree with Healthy Minister Aaron Molsoaledi's drive to make the drinking age 21.


One of the main problems with underage drinking is that binge drinking ( quick drinking - 5 units within 2 hours - which is how many youth drink) causes damage to the brain, and that can lead to the person becoming dependent on alcohol (i.e. an alcoholic.)


There is a 40% chance of becoming dependent if heavy drinking starts under 15 years, compared to a 20% chance if they start under 18, and only a 9% chance if the person starts drinking over the age of 21.


Stricter rules and enforcement of our rules about underage drinking and not drinking then driving is needed.
South Africans are the biggest drinkers in Africa, and 4th worldwide in terms of risky drinking styles such as drink driving; excessive binge drinking; drinking to get drunk/pass out; from morning to night and without eating food. This is creating an enormous burden to our economy (about R400 billion annually) and an unquantifiable cost to the mental health of families.


Banning of alcohol advertising.
SADD do a great deal of work in Universities and Schools to excessive alcohol use by scholar, educators and the parents (for the University project we got a "Prince Michael Of Kent Road Safety award" in 2012.)


Research shows that alcohol advertising influences young people’s drinking habits and instigates early alcohol use.
The main cause of death in young people from 15 - 29 yrs. old is car crashes, and alcohol is usually involved. (Ref: WHO)


Research shows banning advertising is but one way of bringing down these preventable deaths - others being a zero alcohol limit for graduated drivers for 2 years - irrespective of their age - restricting hours of sale of alcohol - not serving intoxicated patrons and the server being held accountable if that patron then has a crash.


SADD caution that merely changing the level to zero,or raising the drinking age to 21 will not stop all the problems or mean people will stop drink driving!


It must be followed through with rigorous enforcement i.e. checking ID's of drinkers, frequent random testing, good paper work that stands up in court, swift appearances in Court, suspending Licenses after drink driving convictions, or going to jail if someone is killed or severely injured.


When high conviction rates result, only then will drink driving decrease. People’s behaviour only changes when they are afraid of the legal and financial implications of their actions.