Breathalyzer testing will be fully enforced after a city wide Road Safety Strategy begins on Thursday March 16, according to the Addis Ababa Road and Transport Bureau. The use of the breathalyzer, which is a device used to estimate blood alcohol content, is currently being partially enforced with four teams of seven individuals patrolling Addis Ababa 24 hours seven days a week.
“We started with lower intensity because a lot of awareness creation work needed to be done, people didn’t know what it was yet. But after the new strategy starts, we will have 10 teams on duty 24 hours, seven days a week,” said .
So far, during the partial enforcement of the breathalyzer testing, over 5,000 people have been stopped to take the test during the day and night and according to the findings, an overwhelming majority of those that took the test have failed.
“We were very shocked to find out most people were driving under the influence of alcohol in their system even during the day time,” Solomon said.
Findings also showed that many taxi drivers also drove under the influence. “The trend of drinking and driving among taxi drivers as well as other commercial drivers was staggering but it also declined quickly because after we started doing the testing, they understood the consequences and knew it would affect their livelihoods,” Solomon pointed out.
The fine for offenders is small, according to experts who say unless there is a heaver penalty fee, people won’t learn their lessons. But according to Solomon, putting out a heavy penalty fee is not realistic.
“If we say the fee is 2,000 birr, there are people that are unable to pay off that even in six months, so the burden will go on to their families who have had nothing to do with the matter. We don’t want that to happen,” he said.
Besides tackling drunk driving, the Bureau is also trying to tackle speeding by bringing in speed measuring technologies to be used by traffic police and to be implemented soon.