22 December 2008
One in every 120 odd drivers you encounter on the roads is likely to be driving under the influence if the results of a combined Central North Island booze bus campaign that finished yesterday are anything to go by.
Over the last three weeks 35627 compulsory breath tests were carried out by Traffic Alcohol Group staff on drivers in the Bay of Plenty, Central, Eastern and Waikato Police Districts.
Waikato Road Policing Manager, Inspector Leo Tooman, said with 297 people facing prosecution this equated to one driver in every 119 driving whilst intoxicated.
"That's simply not acceptable and is quite concerning given the large amounts of public money spent on advertising the risks and the widespread media coverage.
"While one driver in every 119 being over the limit may not seem like much in a quiet rural environment those odds don't seem that good in larger metropolitan centres like Hamilton, Palmerston North or Tauranga."
Two distinct groups were identified as a concern for Police during the operation, youths and drivers over 45.
"Young drivers earned a bad reputation right from the outset of this operation with a 16-year-old in Kawerau caught speeding with no lights on in the dark driving while nearly five times over the alcohol limit."
A 15-year-old boy was processed for excess breath alcohol in the Eastern District the same night while the next evening a 17-year-old Rotorua boy was stopped by road spikes in Papamoa, he ended up blowing five times over the legal limit as well.
Mature women created issues in Hamilton with three 60-year-old women failing breath tests and having their cars impounded on day one.
"It's quite ironic really because overall it was youngsters creating issues around Hamilton and the oldies in Tauranga, trends tended to mirror the demographic breakdown of the cities concerned," said Mr Tooman.
While disappointed that the road safety message hasn't gotten through to everyone Mr Tooman said things weren't all bad.
"When we first started these operations the figure was one driver in 32 on Waikato roads so we're slowly improving but not quickly enough.
"The scale could get to one driver in every 10,000 but if that one person is one of your loved ones then the cost would still be too high for your family."