Think before you drink and drive

Everyone should be aware of the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption, Seqda says.

The annual 'Don't drink and drive' campaign run by government and other agancies including Sedqa was launched today by the health minister Godfrey Farrugia and social affairs minister Marie Louise Coleiro Preca.

Health Promotion Department Director, Charmaine Gauci, said the dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol depend on many factors, "thus the best solution is zero tolerance. Do not drink and drive,"

Explaining the effects of alcohol on drivers, Gauci said that the risk of accidents increases given that motorists suffer from blurred vision, drive faster and have difficulty in calculating distances.

Warning that drinking and driving are a potentially fatal cocktail, Gauci said that people could still enjoy themselves however precuations must be taken.

She advised people to use public transport, call a taxi, sleep in a hotel or assign a designate driver if people are out enjoying themselves over the festive period.

Health minister Godfrey Farrugia said that this campaign fronted by ministries, the police, the civil protection department and NGOs was an "all government approach" and called on the media to publicise the campaign and foster a "whole society" approach.

Social policy minister Marie Louise Coleiro Prece said that the first draft of the national alcohol policy has been finalised and highlighted statistics that show that 16-year-olds in Malta showed that were among the biggest consumers of alcohol in Europe.

A police officer said that the authorities would be stepping up their efforts to stop people from drink driving and while emphasising the prevention campaigns, he said that fines and charges acted as a deterrent.

On Sunday evening, the police stopped seven persons who underwent the breathalyser test, he said. Moreover, the police will be increasing spontaneous on the spot checks in areas where people gather in the festive season, such as St Julian's. Drivers who fail the breathalyser test risk having their licence revoked and pay a fee up to €1,400 in fines.

The Sedqa Agancy said that traffic accidents, unwanted sexual relationships, unplanned pregnancies, fights, and a myriad of other incidents can all be related to drink related behaviour.

"Christmas and New Year traditionally see an increase in these type of situations because it is yet another excuse for people to have 'one too many'. These consequences are not only linked to young people but are reported across all age groups," Sedqa said.

The agency added that excessive alcohol consumption may leave serious negative consequences, not only during the festive season, but anytime during the year.

"Apart from the physical and psychological effects alcohol abuse leaves on any person, irrelevant of his/her age, underage drinking brings greater effects."

During this festive season, Sedqa is teaming up with various other entities to promote the message of zero tolerance to driving under the influence of alcohol. These entities include the Health promotion Department, the Police, Civil Protection, Mater Dei Hospital, Transport Malta, and Malta Touring Club.