|A bus driver takes an alcohol breath test. The drink-driving problem requires more drastic measures, despite a large number of violations being punished. — VNA/VNS Photo Doan Tuan
HA NOI (VNS) — The problem of drink-driving, which some experts say could be a factor in as many as 40 per cent of traffic accidents, requires more drastic measures from traffic police, despite a large number of violations being detected.
More than 1,000 drivers were found to have a breath-alcohol concentration exceeding the legal limit of 0.4mg per litre in a two-month pilot inspection on northern highways.
More than 80 per cent of violators were between the ages of 18 and 45, found the pilot inspection carried out on highways of the northern provinces of Bac Ninh, Vinh Phuc, Quang Ninh, Ha Nam and Ninh Binh.
Meanwhile, Ha Noi Police also reported hundreds of drivers were punished last month for exceeding the limit.
Nevertheless, the number of violators detected is much lower than the real situation, said Tran Son Ha, deputy director of the Public Security Ministry's Road and Railway Police Department. Drivers often refuse to take a breath test, he said.
Pham Dang Duy, a traffic policeman on National Highway 5A, said many drivers were afraid the breath test device was dirty or they claimed they did not know how to breath into the equipment.
Nguyen Khanh Hoa, a traffic policeman in Ha Noi said police patrolled near restaurants and bars but violators found ways to avoid being checked, including threats of violence.
Ha said more modern equipment was needed. Police would work with the health sector to conduct blood-alcohol concentration tests.
The department will allocate more traffic police near restaurants, he said.
However, Dr Nguyen Thanh Binh of Military Hospital 103, said most people acknowledged the threat of alcohol-impaired drivers.
But few could refuse to drink with their friends, thinking they would only drink one or two glasses of beer or wine, he said.
It was necessary to raise driver awareness of the dangers of drink-driving. If not, even stricter punishment would not work, he said.
New fines taking effect last November were up 2.5 times. Car drivers with a blood-alcohol concentration over 80mg per 100ml or breath-alcohol concentration over 0.4mg per litre were subject to fines of VND10-15 million (US$475-715), instead of the previous range of VND4-6 million ($190-290). The penalties for motorbike drivers committing the same offence were from VND2-3 million ($95-145). — VNS