[WATCH] Keep your loved ones safe this Christmas: don't drink and drive

If you plan on drinking during a Christmas or New Year's reception, don't drive: call a cab or assign a lead driver

Not a single drop of alcohol should be consumed by anyone who plans on driving, health promotion and disease prevention directorate director Paula Vassallo insisted, at the launch of this year festive season safety campaign.

“Even one drink is enough to compromise a person’s judgement and ability to drive,” she said.

The Gawdi l-Festi … Gawdi l-Hajja campaign, carrying the hashtag #getacab, focuses on encouraging the public to find other means of transport, in an attempt to deter people from driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs.

Police Superintendent Mario Tonna said that every year there is increased police presence around the country because the festive season brings increased instances of driving under the influence.

When asked by MaltaToday how many accidents normally take place during this period, Tonna said that the number had dropped significantly recently due to the police’s efforts.

“In the last three to four years, we have had no fatalisties, although there have been cases of injuries. We consider this as a sign that we have succeeded with our relay road-checks. We have people complain that they are stopped by plice three or four times in a night. The police force intends to keep this up as it is unacceptable to allow people to get injured,” Tonna said.

“Even if the breathylser check comes out clean, we will still carry out our preventative checks.”

He added that there has recently been an increase in carpooling and people seeking other modes of transport.

Tonna also called on the public not to be afraid of the police. “ We are not here to be feared, we are here to help. I ask anyone who feels he or she is not in a position drive to reach out to the police and ask for assistance,” he said, reminding that sped and  distracted driving are the leading causes of death, and that driving under the influence further reduces the time one takes to react.

This year alone, there have been 19 road fatalities, the majority of which were either pedestrians or passengers. Additionally, there have been 137 cases of grievous injures for traffic accidents.

Michael Spiteri, representing Mater Dei’s emergency department, called on the public to remember that there are families behind the figures. “There are friends and families who are suffering, who have lost loved ones or who are dealing with the consequences of these accidents,” he said.

Spiteri also pointed out that driving under the influence is not the only danger during the Christmas and New Year period. “It is important to factor in tiredness. Not only would people be tired from the celebrations, but in this period there is an increased number of people working late and longer shifts. We must be wary of this this too,” he said.

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