Alcohol: A death trap for drunk drivers

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are nearly 3400 people who die due to road traffic injuries, every day, globally. There are tens of millions around the world that are injured and disabled because of road accidents.

In Bhutan, vehicle accidents claim about one life in every three months. Likewise, in the capital, Thimphu, with a population of more than 0.1mn, vehicle accidents claimed 10 lives last year. 51 vehicle accidents were recorded along the Thimphu-Babesa expressway claiming one life and leaving 13 injured.

“Most of the accidents occur during the party nights (Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday) and on Sunday,” the Officer in Command of Traffic Division, Thimphu, said, sharing on the frequency of accidents.

He added that Thimphu had the highest registered cases of drink driving last year. There were 142 drink driving cases were registered with the Traffic Division, Thimphu apart from other cases.

A taxi driver for the past four years, Sonam Wangchuk, 40, said, “During the party nights, the drunkards are seen often along the highways asking for a lift.” He added that he does not entertain such people considering the risk involved.

He said there are private cars being driven dangerously along the road during such party nights, creating a high chance of hitting other cars and the people along the road. Another taxi driver, Tandin, 36, recalls being scolded by a drunk driver as he tried to steer clear away from the driver. He added that he has never reported such cases to the authorities.

As per the RSTA Act, 1999, if the level of alcohol in the driver’s blood exceeds 0.08 grams per 100 milliliters then it is considered as an offence.

The OC, Traffic Division, Thimphu, said the drink drivers are mostly in the middle to young aged category. He added the traffic division deploys additional teams to monitor and supervise several areas in Thimphu during the party nights.

The OC said that most of the road accidents in Thimphu happen during the winter months due to bad weather and road conditions. He said some students on winter vacations are also caught drink driving and driving without a license.

To reduce the drink driving cases in the country, the OC said that there should be stricter rules and the penalty for drink driving cases should be increased like in other developed countries.

He added there is a need for awareness campaigns in the drayangs and party halls about drink driving. He urged the party goers to assign a designated driver who can drive responsibly and not under the influence of alcohol.

The traffic in Thimphu is not pedestrian friendly in terms of lack of infrastructure, like the underpass or overhead bridges, proper road fencing, and proper footpath. The OC said pedestrians and drivers have to observe the rules and regulations to avoid accidents.

Last year, Thimphu saw 602 vehicle accident cases which resulted in 10 deaths and leaving 225 injured. 273 of the cases were caused due to human error, 142 under influence of alcohol, 107 hit and run, 48 due to un-licensed driver, 39 by pedestrian accident, 17 due to speeding, 14 due to road and weather condition, two due to mechanical defect and 11 due to student accidents.

As per the record maintained by traffic division, there were 791 vehicle accidents in the country which resulted in the death of 76 people and 426 injured. 382 accidents were caused by human error, 160 under the influence of alcohol, 112 by hit and run, 62 by un-licensed drivers, 50 by pedestrian accident, 46 by over speeding, 35 by bad road and weather condition, 19 by mechanical defect and 10 cases w

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