Road Administration: No significant improvement in driver alcohol awareness ({{contentCtrl.commentsTotal}})

Police officer performing a breathalyser test. Image is illustrative
Police officer performing a breathalyser test. Image is illustrative Source: (Eesti Meedia/Scanpix)

Last year, there were 134 traffic accidents involving drunk drivers, in which 10 people died and 160 were injured. During the first five months of this year, there have been 51 traffic accidents involving a drunk driver, in which 59 people have been injured, and 8 people have died, the Road Administration (Maanteeamet) reports.

Alcohol is often consumed with companions, the authority says, which means that before sitting behind the wheel, someone should have had the opportunity to stop an individual from driving while intoxicated. When going to a party with friends, people should think about how to avoid ending up driving behind the wheel while drinking alcohol, the Road Administration says.

Last year, drivers had to blow into more than 900,000 breathalyzer tests. As a result, 7,149 drunk drivers were caught, 2,657 of whom were criminally intoxicated. Drivers' awareness of the effects of alcohol and its breakdown in the body has not improved significantly over the years, however, the administration says.

The authority says that it even is not known exactly how much alcohol in the bloodstream results from consuming a single shot of vodka, and how many hours it takes to after that to attain complete sobriety.

There are three important aspects/things that everybody needs to know about alcohol and driving, the administration goes on:

  • People underestimate the amount they have drunk and the length of time alcohol remains in the body. If you have consumed alcohol last night and have already felt its effects, you should not trust yourself to drive in the morning, but check for intoxication with a breathalyzer before sitting behind the wheel.
  • There is no way for a person to speed up the elimination of alcohol from the body. Among the old (and newer) myths are those such as the process of decomposing alcohol can be accelerated by sleeping, taking a sauna or a cold shower, drinking an energy drink and coffee, or playing sports, all of which are not true. Only five percent of alcohol in the system is lost through sweating and urine, with 95 percent of the work done by the liver. Alcohol causes dehydration, which can lead to nausea or vomiting, muscle cramps, fatigue, and headaches. This means exercise does not help either, because it takes time to fully sober.
  • People underestimate the intoxication caused by light alcoholic beverages. Beer and cider are definitely not "soft" drinks, the Road Administration points out. For example, one 0.5 liter beer with a 5-percent alcohol content contains 20 grams of pure alcohol, while a 40 centiliter shot of vodka contains 13 grams. This amount of pure alcohol causes intoxication of 0.33 percent for a man weighing 85 kilograms and 0.5 percent for a woman weighing 65 kilograms.

Drinking alcohol makes many people feel that nothing bad is happening to them. It causes them to drive at high speeds and without a seat belt. All of these three factors, namely alcohol, speed, and driving without a seat belt, are likely to lead to a road accident with serious consequences.

If you are unable to prevent a drunk driver from driving, be sure to notify the police by calling 112. By doing this, you can prevent a more serious accident which could change the lives of your loved ones or others forever. In 2019, 112 was called more than 10,000 times to inform on drunk drivers.

The Road Administration's prevention campaign "Omasid ei last täis peaga rooli" ("Don't Let Your People Drive When Drunk!") runs from today until July 5. The aim of the campaign is to realize that it is well within the power of family members, friends and acquaintances to prevent a person who has consumed alcohol from sitting behind the wheel of a vehicle.

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Editor: Katriin Eikin Sein

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