Let's make responsible drinking a trend this summer. Picture: Pexels

Did you know that of the 14 000 road related deaths every year, 60% of those are from drinking and driving? 

Did you know that South Africa is one of the country's with the highest alcohol consumption levels in the world? 

Did you know that South Africa is ranked the worst in the world when it comes to driving under the influence of alcohol? 

When then will we realise that these are not stats we should be proud of, and make a concerted effort to change? 

There was a time when people who choose to not consume alcohol were thought to be boring and stuck-up. That they thought they were better than everybody else and then coerced to have a drink just so they don't make everyone wary of them. 

But in recent years we have seen more people choosing to cut down on alcoholic beverages, rather having virgin alternatives of their beverage beverages, or juice. 

The beverages industry has also responded to the trend and there are now more companies producing alcohol-free variants of their popular beverages. From gin, ciders and beer, to sparkling wine, whisky and vodka, there are now options for to go for booze-free options.

They may taste like the real thing, but they don't have the alcohol.

There have a been a number of articles about the 'sober curious' and 'responsible drinking' movement written over the course of the year, showing the importance of mindful drinking.

There was even a Mindful Drinking festival, which took place in October this year. 

In his interview with IOL Food & Drinks, the founder of the festival,Sean O’Connor that is was all about helping people make informed decisions about the beverages they drink. 

“Inspired by Club Soda in the UK and the Mindful Drinking Movement, we saw evidence of the global Sober Revolution starting to take place in SA, with a steady supply of new non-alcoholic products appearing on our shelves. ​

"We started speaking to local distillers, brewers, and members of the drinking public. The public, while curious, doesn’t seem to have many opportunities to sample these products and get to know them. Once they do taste them however, they are usually impressed and often converted, so we decided to host a festival, bringing together as many alcohol-free products as possible,” said O’Connor. 
Even so, it is understandable that not everyone will want to go the booze-free option, but that means we now have to make responsible drinking an important part alcohol consumption in the country. 

Tops at Spar is currently running a campaign that is all about making sure that more people drink responsibly during the festive season, which is when we have the most number of DUI related accidents in the country.

They have called it Aftertaste, to make consumers of alcohol more aware of their consumption and to use alternative modes when they have had too much to drink. 
 
“Road accidents cost the South African economy R140 billion each year in insurance, lost employment, healthcare costs, and Road Accident Fund pay-outs, but this doesn’t factor in the hundreds of victims who are left incapacitated or unable to care for their families, and the many others who are impacted in any number of soul-destroying ways, including being incarcerated for one bad decision,” says Mark Robinson, SPAR Group Liquor Manager.

It is a step in the right direction, if the country's biggest liquor retailer has realised just how serious the road carnage is due to driving under the influence of alcohol.

Last year, one of the biggest spirits producers in the world, Pernod Ricard, also launched a campaign to highlight the importance of responsible drinking.

The 1-4-1 campaign was launched to encourage people to adopt and maintain a culture of consuming one bottle of water for every alcoholic drink.

In an interview with IOL Food & Drinks last year, the brand's MD, Paul Scanlon said they understand that people want to have fun, but they also need to be conscientious about balancing their alcohol intake. 

“People are at the heart of everything we do.  As creators of conviviality, we are constantly looking at innovative ways in which our consumers can enjoy our premium brands in the company of friends and loved ones in a responsible manner." 

So we hope that there will be a change this season, where getting Nomahelele drunk, is not funny, but a serious problem. It's time we started handling our liquor intake better, become responsible with our consumption and refusing to get in a car driven by a person who was drinking alcohol, no matter how much of a good driver they are. 

Be safe this summer.