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Alcohol and excessive speed are unfortunately still the two most common factors in road accidents with serious consequences. During this period the problem of alcohol and speed on the roads is even more acute: next week is St Martin's Day, which many people celebrate with alcohol, and the December festivities are also getting closer. During this period the police will be carrying out a series of activities to increase the safety of road users.

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These activities were today presented in more detail at Moste Police Station by Robert Sušanj, the head of the Traffic Police Section of the Uniformed Police Directorate at the General Police Directorate.

As part of the interdepartmental preventive campaign Alcohol kills - most often the innocent, which will run during this period throughout Slovenia and is coordinated on the basis of the national road safety programme for the area of alcohol by the Ministry of Health, activities will take place in two stages: around St Martin's day (between 5 and 12 November 2008) and throughout December.

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During the campaign the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Transport will publish preventive advertisements in the media; health, market and labour inspectors will supervise the observance of the Restriction of the Use of Alcohol Act; the Z glavo na zabavo (You can choose, win or lose) Foundation will organise various events for young people in towns around Slovenia; and other ministries and institutions will take part within the context of their activities.

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The police, Sušanj underlined, will be carrying out more stringent controls of the mental and physical state of drivers throughout the country between 7 and 9 November. These checks will also be carried out on a coordinated basis in neighbouring countries, while in addition to the joint campaign police officers on these days will also carry out  numerous stringent controls at the local level in the territories of individual police administrations - some during the day, some in the evening, and some late at night or in the early hours of the morning. Controls carried out by police officers on various routes will identify drivers driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and psychoactive medicines, measure speed and identify other violations of road traffic regulations.

Edo Behlič of the Ljubljana Police Directorate described the detention procedure for the benefit of the representatives of the media, and they also had the chance to view the detention facilities at Moste Police Station. The police are required to detain persons who are found to have been driving under the influence of alcohol and who have an excessive blood alcohol level.

Driving under the influence of alcohol can kill. Alcohol first reduces the capacity for normal judgement, which is followed by a reduced capacity of perception, misjudgements of distances, slow reactions, impaired balance, narrowed field of vision, and so on. Alcohol can remain in the human organism for up to 12 hours, which means that the morning after drinking alcoholic drinks we are still not fully capable of driving safely, or in other words a breath test can reveal a concentration of alcohol that is still above the permitted level.

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During an inspection of detention premises at Ljubljana Moste Police Station

Robert Sušanj presented some alarming statistics:

This year (to 1 October), there have been 16,980 accidents on Slovenia's roads (compared to 23,248 in the same period last year), in which 163 (232) people died, 808 (1,027) were seriously injured and 8,396 (11,905) suffered minor injuries.

In this period 1,883 or 12% of drivers causing accidents drivers (compared to 2,517 or 11.8% last year) were under the influence of alcohol, and caused 49 (87) fatal accidents, 162 (231) accidents involving serious injuries and 636 (886) accidents involving minor injuries.

The average blood alcohol level of drivers causing fatal road accidents was 1.57 (1.63) per mille. In the case of road accidents involving serious injuries it was 1.42 (1.39) per mille while in the case of road accidents involving minor injuries it was 1.51 (1.53) per mille.

In this period the police ordered 295,234 (288,848) breath tests and identified 17.812 (21,176) drivers driving under the influence of alcohol.

As a result, 4,871 people were detained between 30 April 2008 and 30 September 2008 in accordance with the Road Traffic Safety Act on the grounds of driving under the influence of alcohol, while 209 (330) people were detained for continuing to drive while under the influence of alcohol. The police impounded 575 (293) vehicles belonging to offenders who repeated serious violations.

Statistical data for the same period last year: During the St Martin's Day weekend, i.e. from 9 to 11 November 2007, there were 280 accidents on Slovenia's roads (286 in 2006), of which 89 (101) involved injuries. There were no fatalities in these accidents (3) but 8 (11) people were seriously injured and 129 (130) people received minor injuries. Alcohol was present in 37 (59) of the causers of the accidents, in other words in 13.2% (20.6%) of accident causers. The police ordered 1,262 (1,105) breath tests, in the course of which they identified 452 (559) drivers driving under the influence of alcohol, while 27 (32) individuals refused a breath test or examination to establish whether they were driving under the influence of alcohol. Police officers detained 10 (6) drivers until they sobered up and impounded 3 (1) vehicles.

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Advice to road users:

  • Do not drink and drive. Only drive sober!
  • If you have been drinking, let someone else drive (someone who has not had a drink) or use public transport.
  • Remember that alcohol remains in your system for up to 12 hours, depending on the quantity you have drunk. This means, for example, that even the morning after drinking alcohol we are still not fully capable of driving safely, or that a breath test can still reveal a blood alcohol level that is above the permitted limit.
  • Pedestrians should walk on the left side of the carriageway wherever there is no pavement. At night and in conditions of reduced visibility they should make sure that they can be seen (reflective clothing, torches, etc.).
  • Riders of two-wheeled vehicles should take into account changed driving conditions (wet and cold roads), since grip is significantly worse in such conditions.
  • All road users should observe other road traffic regulations, in particular rules on speed, right of way, overtaking, the use of safety belts and mobile phones, and the safety distance.

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Advice for young people:

  • If you drive, avoid alcohol, drugs and psychoactive medicines.
  • If you are not a driver, do not get into a vehicle with a driver who has been drinking.
  • Passengers should not hesitate to warn drivers who violate road traffic regulations: your safety and your life depend on their actions.

Parents should be aware of where their children spend their free time and who is driving them. We particularly warn all owners of catering establishments (cafés, bars, etc.) and organisers of entertainment events during December at which alcohol will be sold that they should observe the provisions of the Restriction of the Use of Alcohol Act. Do not serve alcoholic drinks to persons who are already under the influence of alcohol, to minors, or to persons whom you know will later be driving.

Safe driving, everyone!

And don't forget: driving under the influence of alcohol kills - most often the innocent.