Screen_Shot_2014-04-10_at_7.59.38_PMOne of the most anticipated holidays is just days away and there is no doubt that there will be A LOT of alcohol consumption happening throughout the course of the Easter weekend. It is a time when hundreds of Belizeans travel to various destinations with their families to enjoy the holiday but once alcohol is involved, danger always looms. This was part of the message that was delivered this morning by representatives of the Orange Walk Town Council and the Ministry of Works and Transport as they launched the national road safety “No Drink and Drive Campaign”. The campaign was launched at the Central Park and Dalila Ical has more on the story.

Dalila Ical – Reporting

Errol Gentle – CEO, Ministry of Works & Transport

“One death is too much and whilst we are trying, last year we had 20% reduction in fatality caused by traffic accident, last month alone there was three and whilst we are looking at a 20% reduction my thing is that if we can go to 75% reduction let aim for it because one death is too many.”

Many Belizeans share CEO, Ministry of Works & Transport Errol Gentle’s sentiment on the matter, especially those who have been directly affected by drunk drivers.

But today, this realization by proper authorities is moving them into long awaited action. The launch of the road safety “no drink and drive” campaign is a joint effort between the Ministry of Works and Transport and the Orange Walk Town Council.

Kevin Bernard – Mayor, OW Town

“The Belize Municipal Development Project came along with several components and one of the component being Traffic Management, Traffic Safety and what we did in this case we teamed up with the Belize Road Safety Project through the ministry of works and transport that is on-going and so as part of the launch we introduced the new technologies that are available and we are launching the campaign based on No drinking and driving.”

And it is no trivial matter as Gentle explains that statistics from the Belize Police Departments intelligence section show that drunk driving is the second cause of death by traffic accidents on the highways.

Errol Gentle – CEO, Ministry of Works & Transport

“Every so often you will hear and especially on weekends and on holidays you hear about some accident taking place and when the police do their investigation it proofs that the person who was driving that vehicle was either under the influence of alcohol being fully drunk or has excess level of alcohol in his or her system.”

The emotional and even psychological impacts these accidents cause to families is tremendous though rarely publicized. Gentle adds too that the impact on the country’s economy is incredible.

Errol Gentle – CEO, Ministry of Works & Transport

“About 1.26 percent of the GDP or 34 million dollars per year that is taking into effect; if you look at the response of the police so the time the police needs to spend the fuel the police need to use, the responds of the health system, the burden on the health system if the person is not dead or maybe is just injured but the amount of time he or she spends in the hospital and if you looking at a young Belizean how that young Belizean could have contributed to the economy ok maybe he or she could have grown up to be a doctor or a lawyer or a CEO  a carpenter of something but because the life has been cut short so all these put together would show the figure that I just quoted.”

The campaign is nationwide. The target population is everyone and it entails increasing awareness on the dangers of drunk driving and its legal implications. Add to this that the councils Traffic department also received a breathalyzer, the Town Council and the Ministry mean business.

Kevin Bernard –Mayor, OW Town

“We are going to be serious in trying to ensure that people follow the law too much times we have seen too much traffic accidents within our town and outside our district and minor things are done on it because sometimes lack of evidence now this is something that is efficient and something that could assist and stand in the court of law, I know that the law is also being amended and in fact has already been legislated I believe to allow for these things to be taken to court as proof of evidence when it comes to these types of situation of drinking and driving.”

Errol Gentle – CEO, Ministry of Works & Transport

“Our officers especially my officers at the transport department will maintain vigilance and this will be an on-going thing to ensure that we can do as much as possible to put a stop to drunk driving.”

The traffic officers at the Orange Walk Town Council’s traffic authority have undergone training in road safety and the breathalyzer and are therefore fully equipped and ready to enforce the law.

Traffic officers from both the Town Council and the Ministry will be working in full force during the Easter Holidays and so it goes without saying, if you drink, don’t drive and if you drive, don’t drink.

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