‘Liquor industry not to blame for reckless, drunk driving’

The responsibility for ensuring the safety of pedestrians, commuters and drivers on the road rests with law-enforcement agencies, according to Lucky Ntimane, spokesperson for Liquor Traders Association.

Ntimane’s remarks come in response to the increasing number of drivers being apprehended for drunk driving in Limpopo and other parts of the country since the festive season started.

It was reported at the weekend that 16 motorists were arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Limpopo, bringing the total to 178 arrests for December.

All the arrested drivers are scheduled to appear in magistrate’s courts today.

Growing concerns about alcohol consumption regulations and road safety measures have sparked reactions from various stakeholders, particularly as the December festivities gain momentum.

Asked by Sunday World about the issue, Ntimane stressed that the blame for motorists’ drinking and driving should not be placed on the alcohol industry but on the individuals committing the offence.

Alcohol industry not to blame

“The issue of people drinking and diving is not something that should be placed at the door of the alcohol industry,” said Ntimane.

“It is individuals who decide to break the law and put their lives and those of their passengers in danger.

“This is not something that the alcohol industry is responsible for doing, [instead it is] those individuals [who should take the responsibility]. 

“No one ever blames VW [Volkswagen] for accidents that happen with Polo cars for example, because the issue is not the car but the people that choose to drive recklessly.” 

Ntimane underscored that industry stakeholders only have a restricted role in addressing drunk driving, noting that the responsibility should be a shared effort involving law-enforcement agencies and the community.

Limited role to play

He explained: “Liquor traders have a limited role to play in addressing the issue of drunk driving.

“A person can walk into a supermarket at a shopping mall, buy alcohol and decide to drink it while driving. Surely this can’t be something that the alcohol industry is expected to address.

“The responsibility lies with law enforcement by ensuring that the law is seen to be working by arresting those individuals who are drinking and driving.

“The community also has a role to play because we know that those who drink and drive are our relatives, what are we doing about it?”

Rising number of reckless drivers

In a statement on Christmas Day, Stephen Matjena, head of the Limpopo department of transport and community safety, raised concern over the significant number of reckless drivers who continue to ignore warnings about drunk driving.

Nevertheless, he praised the arrests made by law-enforcement agencies as a significant step in enhancing safety for road users.

Said Matjena: “It is cause for concern that we still have so many irresponsible drivers who choose to disregard the warnings on drunk driving.

“The arrests are, however, a commendable step towards making this festive season safer for all road users.

“Our officers remain deployed at critical points across the province with clear instruction to arrest motorists driving under the influence of alcohol.

“Motorists are therefore urged to always obey the rules of the road for safe journeys during this joyous season.”

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