2019's worst day for drink-driving is here

Police are being urged to do more to stop drink-driving these upcoming holidays.

The Friday before Christmas is historically one of the worst days of the year for drink-driving.

Intervention Trust director Roger Brooking says a drop in police breath testing has helped offenders slip through.

"They're not actually catching anywhere near enough, in my opinion. And the reason they're not catching enough is because in the last few years, the police have drastically cut back on the number of random breath tests that they do."

In 2018, 154 people were killed in crashes involving drunk drivers, out of a total road toll of 377. Of those 154, fewer than half - 70 - were over the legal limit.

Cheap booze is part of the problem, Brooking says.

"If the Government tackled the liquor industry and actually put the price of booze up, there would be a lot less people dying on the roads." 

Auckland Transport says buses, trains and "some" ferries will be free from 4pm on Friday to ensure workers get home safely after celebrating the end of the working year with colleagues. 

Police have expressed disappointment in the number of people still choosing to drink and drive. A recent sting saw 168 drivers caught above the limit in Counties-Manukau and more than 200 in Wellington. 

"This isn't about people choosing to drink, but about people choosing to do so without making appropriate plans to get themselves home safely," said Tāmaki Makaurau road policing manager Insp Scott Webb.

"Many people appear to be putting others at risk by failing to plan and driving under the influence of alcohol."

Nearly a third of all crashes involve alcohol.

Brooking is calling for more funding for services like his.

"There's about 10 programmes up and down the country funded by the Government, but they only see approximately 1500 repeat drink-drivers each year. That's just a drop in the bucket compared to the number of people that are actually doing it."

Eleven people lost their lives over the holiday period last year.

"That's 11 people who won't be with their loved ones this year and an even greater number who will be living with the consequence and tragedy of someone being killed on our roads," said Webb.

"We will do whatever it takes to keep motorists safe on our roads over the busy summer period."


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