Emergency call center: Drunk drivers increasingly being called in ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Police officers, rescuers at a crash site. Photo is illustrative.
Police officers, rescuers at a crash site. Photo is illustrative. Source: Juhan Hepner

According to Alarm Center statistics, the reporting of drunk drivers has increased significantly this month, and the number of calls regarding suspicious driving is up nearly one third on year. Police encourage anyone who notices another driver driving dangerously and suspiciously to call the driver in to 112.

Since Friday, police have caught 37 drunk drivers on Estonian roads, bringing the total caught so far this year to 300. Studies indicate, however, that there may be up to 4,000 drivers who have consumed alcohol on the road at any one time, and other road users' calls regarding potential drunk drivers are crucial.

Police and Border Guard Board (PPA) Northern Prefecture Operations Chief Veiko Randlaine stressed that there is no place for the attitude that reporting is snitching.

"It is very important both for the police and for road safety in genera, really, to report every potentially drunk driver," Randlaine said. "The attitude that we won't allow our loved ones, friends and acquaintances to get behind the wheel drunk, or, if they don't listen to us and get behind the wheel anyway, that we will report them to the police should be normal."

Drunk drivers were the cause behind 128 crashes with victims on Estonian roads last year, including 10 fatalities and 149 injuries. Nearly 10,000 emergency calls were placed regarding suspected drunk drivers last year, and Alarm Center statistics indicate that calls placed by other road users have gone up in January.

From January 1-18, 2019, a total of 288 suspected drunk drivers were called in; this year, that total has jumped to 414 during the same period. One likely factor influencing the increase in reporting is a deadly crash caused by a drunk driver in Saaremaa earlier this month.

"Following such very tragic events, it is generally the case, yes, that reporting increases," Randlaine said.

He added that cars swerving from one side of the road to the other or otherwise unnecessarily causing dangerous situations in traffic stand out. On top of intoxication, a driver may have other problems due to which they should not be behind the wheel.

"When you yourself are driving, then you generally understand how a driver acts and you can also see how traffic generally works," Randlaine explained. "In the case of deviations in this behavior, you should always call them in."

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Editor: Aili Vahtla

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