In Barbados, most of us have heard the expression: “The car knows its way home”. Many stories have been told in a jovial manner of experiences of drinking “real nuff drinks” and waking up in your car parked outside your house without a memory of driving the car home. This is the cavalier attitude of our society toward drinking and driving. It is viewed as “being able to hold your drinks” and as a characteristic of manhood. The dangers of driving under the influence of alcohol are minimalized.
A group of friends attend a party and everyone in the group drinks alcoholic beverages together, without recognizing the potential danger of the driver falling asleep at the wheel, or a slowed reaction time causing their vehicle to be involved in a fatal accident on the way home. They may walk away from the accident or they may not.
Most persons are aware that drug overdoses can kill, but in Barbados we view drugs as cocaine, heroin and to a lesser extent marijuana. However, alcohol is a drug and an overdose can be life threatening which is called Alcohol Toxicity.
Alcohol binge drinkers are at great risk of getting Alcohol Toxicity. Binge drinking is the practice of consuming large quantities of alcohol in a single session, usually defined as five or more drinks at one time for a man, or four or more drinks at one time for a woman.
The just concluded Christmas season is a time of year when some persons tend to overindulge in alcoholic beverages. Binge drinking can result in car accidents, Emergency Room visits or hospital admissions. Let us be wise even after the holiday season. Let us not drink [alcoholic beverages] and drive. Let us avoid car accidents and trips to the Emergency Room. Let us set good examples for our children and the youth of Barbados.
The National Council on Substance (NCSA) will continue to investigate the factors which perpetuate or contribute to persons “Driving Under the Influence” (DUI). Such information will offer the public a richer understanding of the DUI phenomenon and allow for better response planning. Given the association between DUI, alcohol and road traffic accidents/fatalities, the legislation regarding the use of the breathalyzer which was enacted since 2017, is currently underway.
Consideration should also be given to implementing sobriety check-points in the vicinity of places (nightclubs, bars, etc.) known to be frequented by persons who purchase or imbibe alcohol on a regular basis.
Additionally, it is also suggested that approaches similar to the “Sober Zones” which were facilitated during the 2017–2019 Crop Over season be implemented on a wider scale or on an ongoing basis. Given the many events and activities which have been planned as part of the We Gatherin’ 2020 celebrations, initiatives such as these offer party goers the opportunity to “sober up”, to ensure that party goers designate drivers before going on the road or that they can arrange alternative transportation (e.g. taxis).
Lastly, educational programmes and advertising campaigns which focus on the dangers associated with DUI may prove beneficial. Such efforts should be intensified during periods associated with increased alcohol consumption, for example, during Christmas and Crop Over. (NCSA)