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Launch of Bob road safety campaign: drink driving a growing problem since pandemic
Belgium's winter anti-drink-driving campaign launched amid new figures showing that driving under the influence of alcohol is rising following the coronavrirus pandemic.
During the first nine months of 2022, 3,138 traffic accidents were caused by excessive alcohol consumption, reports RTBF. This figure is more than for the whole of 2020 (2,922) and 2021 (2,489). Both years were affected by traffic restrictions and lockdowns during the health crisis.
In addition, 22,779 people tested positive for alcohol between January and June of this year, which equates to 126 per day.
The negative figures were revealed during the unveiling of the winter designated driver Bob campaign in the presence of mobility minister Georges Gilkinet and interior minister Annelies Verlinden.
Alcohol to blame for 25% of road accidents
"Belgium cannot be proud of these results," underlined Gilkinet. "Every year, every day, there are far too many road casualties: deaths and serious injuries." He pointed out that "alcohol consumption caused 25% of road accidents."
He would like to see the introduction in Belgium of license points for drink driving, a measure already established in France. Verlinden is also in favour. "We must continue to raise awareness and control. The police do not issue fines for fun. We hope to celebrate the new year in the best possible conditions."
Road safety institute Vias questioned 1,000 people in a survey on attitudes to drink driving. Faced with a friend who was under the influence of alcohol and about to drive, half of the people polled intervened to stop the person driving, a third tried to find another solution to prevent them from getting behind the wheel, 13% made a remark without daring to intervene too much, and 3% made no comment, according to Vias. When the person who drank too much was a stranger, half of respondents did not intervene or were satisfied with making a simple remark.
"There is too high a social acceptance of drink driving in Belgium, more than among our neighbours," added Gilkenet. "Although drivers are aware of the risks, they underestimate the drop in attention and the slowing of reflexes that alcohol consumption causes," concluded Verlinden.
Bob campaign continues until end January
The roll out of the designated driver campaign in video spots and posters on social networks and public places runs from 25 November until 30 January.
"It's my life," hum various road users as a Bob driver appears. The Dr Alban hit forms the slogan for the awareness-raising programme that also applies to cyclists. Drivers can expect extra road checks "at any time and in any place," reminded Vias.
Photo: Belga/Nicolas Maeterlinck