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Alcohol testing one key component to fighting drunk driving scourge

In his presentation of the 2011/2012 SAPS National Crime Statistics to Parliament, Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa noted that driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs had increased by 2.9%.  This was on the back of a 4.5% increase in 2010/2011, and the Minister echoed the sentiments of many road-users when he said “this is worrying, particularly as fatalities continue to be associated with drunk-driving.”

Alcohol is one of the leading causes of road deaths in South Africa in spite of the many private and public initiatives working towards raising awareness and curbing this very serious problem.  Socially responsible citizens will join the Minister in welcoming the National Prosecuting Authority’s decision to charge people with murder instead of culpable homicide when a motor vehicle accident results in death.

There are also proactive steps that business can take to try and contribute towards a reduction in alcohol-related road deaths.  One of these is breath alcohol testing of anyone that gets behind the wheel on behalf of the company.

Easy to use instruments for alcohol testing

Michael Crossland of PSA, which supplies breath alcohol testing instruments to industry, says that as long as certain parameters are in place, it is legal and, in fact, essential to test drivers for alcohol abuse before they’re allowed out on the roads.

The basics of these parameters include a Health and Safety Policy that incorporates a clearly defined Substance Abuse Policy stipulating zero tolerance; reliable testing instruments that produce results that will stand up in the CCMA should a dispute arise; and a clearly outlined testing procedure.

“We supply easy to use and extremely accurate professional grade Lifeloc instruments for breath alcohol testing.  They’re relied on worldwide to pick up any level of alcohol in the user’s system.  Entry level instruments are non-alcohol specific and tend to either not pick up alcohol or give false positives. They’re not intended for industrial use and are not recommended as reliable indicators in the work environment,” said Crossland.

PSA provides back-up services to many South African companies that take the stamping out of substance abuse in the workplace seriously.  These include regular maintenance and calibration of instruments; training on the use of instruments and the interpretation of results; and assistance with policy formulation.