Drink-driving accidents, arrests down

A drink-driving suspect inside a police van. Fifteen men and three women aged between 22 and 58 were arrested in the operation early yesterday morning. A motorist suspected of drink-driving being tested using a hand-held breath analyser. Police held
A motorist suspected of drink-driving being tested using a hand-held breath analyser. Police held an islandwide enforcement operation targeting errant motorists early yesterday.ST PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI
A drink-driving suspect inside a police van. Fifteen men and three women aged between 22 and 58 were arrested in the operation early yesterday morning. A motorist suspected of drink-driving being tested using a hand-held breath analyser. Police held
A drink-driving suspect inside a police van. Fifteen men and three women aged between 22 and 58 were arrested in the operation early yesterday morning. ST PHOTOS: LIM YAOHUI

Police cite tough enforcement, heightened awareness as reasons

Drink-driving has become less of a problem, going by a decrease in accidents caused by such behaviour.

Compared with the same period a year ago, there were fewer drink- driving accidents, casualties and arrests in the first half of this year, which the Traffic Police (TP) have credited to tough enforcement and heightened awareness.

According to TP statistics, there were 70 drink-driving accidents from January to June this year, down from 81 year-on-year.

Fatalities in such cases fell from eight to three, although cases of injuries rose from 102 to 109.

Overall, the number of people arrested for drink-driving has also been on the slide. This fell from 3,019 in 2013 to 2,303 last year and from 1,267 in the first half of last year to 1,042 for the same period a year later.

Traffic Police head of operations Ho Yenn Dar said: "There has been a continued decrease in the numbers due to the Traffic Police's three-pronged approach towards drink-driving - education, engagement and enforcement. People are more responsible now."

He added that more people are engaging valet services or taking taxis rather than driving after drinks.

Ms Audrey Wee, director of iDrive Valet Services, said the company has seen a 30 per cent increase in customers since around a year ago, with a growing proportion of them aged between 18 and 24. She attributed the rise to an increasing number of roadblocks.

Ms Wee added: "Yesterday (morning), during the islandwide operation, there was a surge in calls."

Mr Gary Yeo of Drive U Home, which has been in the business for over seven years, said stricter enforcement and reduced waiting times for breathalyser tests have made drivers more cautious.

He has seen a 5 to 10 per cent rise in customers in the past year, with most of them in their 30s to 50s.

Superintendent Ho said the authorities carry out regular enforcement operations. For larger exercises, a mobile breath evidential analyser test centre is on site, reducing the time needed to get accurate test results for suspected drink-drivers.

In the early hours of yesterday, the Traffic Police conducted an islandwide enforcement operation, targeting errant motorists. A total of 77 drivers were stopped and tested at roadblocks in areas including Clemenceau Avenue, as observed by The Straits Times from 1am to 3am.

Among them, 15 men and three women aged between 22 and 58 were arrested for drink-driving. The highest breath evidential analyser test result was 63 microgrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of breath - almost double the prescribed legal limit of 35 microgrammes.

Drivers who do not pass an initial test have to blow into a hand-held breath analyser. If they fail again, they are taken to a mobile test centre for a more accurate reading.

First-time offenders may be fined between $1,000 and $5,000 and they may be disqualified from driving for up to 48 months. Repeat offenders could get a fine of up to $30,000, three years' jail and a maximum of six strokes of the cane.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2016, with the headline 'Drink-driving accidents, arrests down'. Print Edition | Subscribe