“Think Before You Drink” National Campaign Launched
The Belize Department of Transport presented the San Pedro Town Council and SP Traffic Department with a new breathalyzer as part of the ‘Think Before You Drink’ national campaign that was officially launched this week.
The Belize National Road Safety Demonstration Project in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Belize Municipal Development Project under the Social Investment Fund launched a nationally ‘Don't Drink Drive’ education campaign. The don't-drink driving campaign was organized under the BSIF Belize Municipal Development Project to be implemented as a part of the Traffic Safety and Management component with Town and City Councils nationwide with collaboration from the National Road Safety Project.
San Pedro Traffic Wardens with Mr. Tirso Galvez
On Thursday, April 10, 2014, the "Think before you drink. Don't drink and drive.” Campaign was launched on San Pedro Town, Ambergris Caye at Central Park. Marion Mejia presented important facts of Drinking and Driving after which Mr. Chris Nuñez, Manager of Traffic Department, addressed the audience and stressed on the importance of sensitization and education on drinking and driving. He asked the community for their utmost understanding and cooperation for all to have safer roads.
“We are now constantly seeing in the electronic media the reports of fatal traffic collisions; most of these are not considered accidents because they can be prevented,” stated Mr. Tirso Galvez, Operations Officer at The Department of Transport. “Drinking and driving is one of the major reasons there are traffic accidents in the country and has a serious death rate and an even more serious economic repercussion.”
Mr. Galver presents the breathalyzer machine to Mayor Daniel Guerrero
Mr. Galvez then officially presented Mayor Daniel Guerrero and Mr. Chris Nuñez with a breathalyzer machine and made demonstrations on how to properly use the device. The San Pedro Transport Department is now equipped with a speedometer, a tint meter inspector and now a breathalyzer. The Department will be carrying out even more check points as the Easter vacations approaches.
San Pedro Town Council, Belize Road Safety Demonstrative Project and Social Investment Fund present National Launch of “Don't Drink Driving” Campaign
The issue of road safety has risen to international importance due to the impact on countries and their economic development. Nearly one point three (1.3) million people die every year on the world's roads, and up to fifty (50) million are injured; ninety percent (90%) of casualties from road deaths occur in developing countries. Annual road traffic deaths are forecast to rise to one point nine (1.9) million people by 2020 with road traffic injuries as the number one cause of death for young males and females worldwide.
In Belize, the estimated loss is approximately thirty million Belize dollars (BZ$30,000,000) per year and road traffic injuries place an immense burden on hospitals, health systems and policing services. Although statistics on the causes of road traffic accidents are not accurately mined, it is believed that road traffic accidents as a result of drunk driving may be responsible for a majority of the deaths and injuries.
In Belize, the traffic laws have an alcohol limit for drivers of:
* 80 milligrams of alcohol in 100 milliliters of blood
* 107 milligrams of alcohol per 100 milliliters of urine
*.080 liters of Breath using Breathalyzer
However, it is not possible to say how much alcohol you can drink and stay below the limit. The effect of alcohol on any one individual depends on:
* Body weight
* Gender (men tend to process alcohol faster than women)
* Metabolism (the rate your body uses energy)
* The type and amount of alcohol being consumed
* Timing and type of last consumption of food
* The individual's stress level at the time
* Age (young people tend to process alcohol more slowly)
The penalties if convicted of drink driving include:
* A fine of $500
* Suspension of Drivers License
* Imprisonment of 1 year
* A criminal record
However, this list does not include the everyday consequences of being caught driving impaired which can include:
* Increase in car insurance costs
* Job loss
* Trouble of getting into countries like USA
* The shame of having a criminal record
The “Don't Drink Driving” campaign is a precursor for a road traffic monitoring exercise, which will be implemented over the Easter vacation. The monitoring will be a collaboration between the Department of Transport in each district with authority for traffic on the roadways and highways as well as the municipal authorities responsible for traffic within the town and city limits.
Road Safety Project – Belize Project Brief
This project is the first phase of what is expected to be a long-term initiative by the Government of Belize to improve road safety in the country. Implementation commenced in March 2014 and its overall objective is to reduce deaths and serious injuries with road traffic accidents along a Demonstration Corridor.
*Problem: Belize recorded 70 road traffic deaths in 2009 – 21 deaths/100,000 inhabitants. This high death rate is a public health concern that, given the resulting loss in productivity and increase vulnerability to poverty, has significant social and economic repercussions.
*Proposed Solution: A cross-sectoral approach focusing on (1) improving the safety of road infrastructure, (2) enhancing the behavior of road-users, (3) improving enforcement of traffic laws, (4) improving post-crash care and (5) building road safety management capacity amongst responsible entities.
*Road Safety Infrastructure – improvements to the Western Highway between Belize City and Belmopan
*Road User Education and Awareness – increasing awareness through campaigns targeting road users and students in schools along the corridor
*Road Safety Enforcement – improvement of traffic law enforcement through training and capacity enhancement of the relevant authorities (Police and Transport Departments; Municipalities)
*Road Accident Emergency Services – improvement of post-crash trauma care.
The Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (Economic Development) is the lead agency, with the various components being implemented by relevant ministries, Works and Transport, Education, Health, Communications, National Security, Government Press Office and other key line ministries. The Road Safety Project is expected to run 39 months and ending in 2016. A National Road Safety Committee was approved by the Cabinet in July 2013 and will serve as to body to ensure sustainability of road safety measures in Belize in the long term.