The Hyderabad police have caught 627 drunk drivers in the first 20 days of the New year, Of the offenders caught this year, 217 have been directed to take up social service on city roads while 407 have been jailed for a duration of 1-5 days.
Experts say that the rising drink driving cases can be attributed to ‘belt shops’ and illegal liquor outlets. The ever increasing ‘pick-up speed’ of vehicles is also a reason for jump in drink-driving accidents, they say. The excise department has the numbers for only licensed outlets, but it has no count of ‘belt shops’. Of the 2,216 retail outlets in the state, 621 are in Hyderabad and the city also accounts for half of the 805 bars in the state.
According to a senior police official, The purchasing power in general has gone up over the years, leading to more consumption of liquor. Most importantly, the pick-up speed of motorcycles and cars has been on the rise. The newer versions are very responsive to acceleration and often users underestimate the speed it can reach within seconds, more so when drunk. There is a need for excise and revenue departments to get involved in the enforcement system. A detailed research should be done on proximity of liquor outlets and hotels to accident sites.
Say experts, There is a need for stricter action against offenders. As of now, driving licenses are suspended only for third-time offenders. No offence attracts cancellation of license. The only thing that can bring this under control is enforcement. But it has to be more visible. Messages specifying the punishment and consequences should be pasted across the city. Suspension of licenses is a big deterrent. It should be taken up for first-time offences as this is a life-threatening offence where the person knowingly endangers his/her life as well as that of others.