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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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Everyone is invited to the Sir George Brown Field in Belmopan for the launching of an anti-drink and drive campaign this Thursday at 10:00am.

"The Belize National Road Safety Demonstration Project in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the Belize Municipal Development Project under the Social Investment Fund launches a don't drink driving education campaign nationally. The don't-drink driving campaign was organized under the BSIF Belize Municipal Development Project to be implemented as a part of the Traffic Safety and Management component with Town and City Councils nationwide with a collaboration with the National Road Safety Project. "

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Joined: Oct 1999
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Marty Offline OP
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New Awareness Effort To Curb Drunk Driving Over Easter

Today, a "Don't Drink and Drive" Campaign was luanched. It's a national effort, part of a wider Road Safety programme to upgrade highways and activate enforcement. But, with Easter approaching, the message of safe, sober driving was timely, and multiple agencies put the word out today. 7News was there:

Jules Vasquez reporting
Any cause that can get these two potential political rivals in the same photo op has to be a good one.

And it is - drunk driving has caused dozens of traffic fatalities in Belize. But despite all the carnage there's no hard numbers because driving drunk has never been seriously enforced or monitored in Belize. But with the number of road accident deaths, it caught the attention of the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank:

Jette Ravn, Communications Specialist
"Belize was selected by the World Bank to begin with for this project because it was detected that you have some serious problems with road safety and traffic management in the country."

Daedra Haylock, Local Communications Consultant
"We decided based on the focus groups that the consultant conducted to organize a don't drink and drive campaign. Why? Because it is one of the leading causes of traffic accidents. It's one of the leading causes of deaths, it places a high toll on economic development and the systems within countries as a result of these accidents and young people, particularly young males between the ages of 19-25 are particularly impacted."

Jette Ravn, Communications Specialist
"You have many problems in traffic and too many deaths and casualties compare to how slow and little dense the traffic is."

Today's event is an effort to start building awareness that drinking and driving is not ok.

Ernest Raymond, Project Coordinator - Bze Municipal Project
"But we know at Easter time there are major problems on the road with drink driving and so we thought it opportune to begin the implementation of that communication strategy."

Today's formal launching was accompanied by a mini fair - where this graphic display caught our attention - which was the idea:

Javier Canul, Training Coordinator - BERT
"Basically what we do by doing things like this and let it be graphic is for the public to become aware of this is what can happen to you. Would you like to be like this? Is this what you want for yourselves? You need to be able to get rid of the drunk driving or drive safely and make sure that something like this doesn't happen to you. So we do this just in preparation to allow the public to become more aware. The graphicness is for them to say oh my goodness it's that Awe! That we want for them to realize that shucks I need to straighten up and get things right in order."

And while awareness is one component, enforcement is another. The laws have been on the books for two decades, but they've never been seriously enforced.

But now with international funding the tools for the enforcement are being provided and the will appears to be there:

Jules Vasquez
"So if I am drunk driving over the Easter holidays and I am on the roadways, should I have a realistic expectation that I might be pulled over?"

Crispin Jeffries, Commissioner of Transport
"Definitely. You will see that. In fact today is one of a two week exercise we are doing with bus operators leaving Belize City on both highways. This will continue into the use of the breathalyzer and other equipment the week after and right through the Easter season."

The municipalities will be a big part of that. Today, Mayor Darrell Bradley received breathalyzer kits for his municipality:

Mayor Darrell Bradley
"After the erection of various concrete roads we've seen an increase in traffic accidents including traffic fatalities which used to be very infrequent in Belize City. The gifting of the breathalyzers and the training in terms of how to use them effectively would be very important. As was mentioned those things have been on the books since 1992 but because of the training and the technical requirements and having in possession the capacity with regards with the equipment we have been very slow at enforcing those things."

Daedra Haylock, Local Communications Consultant
"We mention to the city councils that you can encourage responsible behaviors. They can have a list of taxis on their list and they can offer their patron 'would you like me to call you a cab' that's the first step to being responsible. As well sometimes you travel, if you been to a concert or you been in a bar you get to ask who is the designated driver - you get a wrist band and that bar may decide okay I'll grant him free entrance into my club or I will give him x amount of non-alcohol drinks for the night because he is the designated driver providing he doesn't consume or even touch one single alcohol drink."

Organizers hope today's effort will be the start of a culture shift.

Jette Ravn, Communications Specialist
"As you say it's a cultural thing that people like the rum and their beer which is perfectly okay but just not when they are also driving in traffic. It's a big issue and you are asking me, I think it has to go on for years and years before there is change. In Europe where I come from it took like 10-15 years before we change the social acceptance of drink driving to a non-social acceptance of drink driving and this is what I hope will happen."

Jules Vasquez
"Do you think it can happen here?"

Jette Ravn, Communications Specialist
"I think it can happen here."

The programme is funded by the World Bank, and The Caribbean Development Bank with project implementation by the Social Investment Fund and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

Channel 7

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