Pub owners, drinking buddies can stop drink driving, says expert

Road safety expert Wong Shaw Voon says laws alone may not be enough to cultivate responsible drinking habits.

PETALING JAYA: Pub owners and drinking buddies have a role to play to stop drink driving, according to a road safety expert.

Speaking to FMT, Wong Shaw Voon of Universiti Putra Malaysia called for efforts to encourage responsible drinking habits and suggested that pub owners and patrons take some responsibility.

Laws alone might not be enough to ensure discipline in all drinkers, he added.

He said pub owners could ensure that lone drinkers get driven home safely by arranging e-hailing rides for them, while those drinking in groups could assign a sober driver for themselves.

According to police, the first five months of this year saw 21 road accidents caused by drink driving, resulting in eight deaths.

The government is considering revising the law against drink driving to make it harsher. It has been proposed that the jail sentence be increased from 10 to 20 years.

Wong, a former director-general of the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research, also said drinkers should be taught not to tease friends who don’t want to drink alcohol on their night out, while e-hailing firms could work with pub owners to provide transport for inebriated customers.

He said these and other safety-promoting habits needed to be developed in Malaysian society.

“We need to get the community and industry to work hand in hand to create new norms,” he added.

Wong noted that several countries were looking at making it mandatory for commercial vehicles to install breath analyser gadgets. “They need to blow first to get the engine started. If the alcohol level is high, the engine will not start.”

New Zealand has introduced a “host responsibility” certificate for pub owners and bartenders who look out for their customers. The idea is to create a responsible drinking environment.

The core principle of the New Zealand initiative is to prevent a person from being dangerously intoxicated. A waiter has the right to refuse service if he finds a patron already drunk. The owner of the premises or his employee also has the right to call a taxi or some other ride for the customer or offer an in-house transport service. The customer could be given water and food to sober him up.

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