File picture: Independent Newspapers.

Cape Town - The pilot phase of the random breath testing project targeted specifically at drunk driving has been launched in the Overberg area, the Western Cape government said on Sunday.

RBT was a joint project of the national, provincial, and local governments, in partnership with the SAPS, RTMC and the Safely Home campaign. 

RBT in the Overberg - launched on Saturday - was being run as part of the Caledon district safety plan. RBT would launch in Cape Town on July 14.

"As road crashes and fatalities continue to devastate lives and to impact negatively on the socio-economic development of the Western Cape we have continued to do all we can to tackle the main causes of injuries and fatalities" said Western Cape transport and public works MEC Donald Grant. "Our evidence-based approach continues to yield positive results, helping us to devise innovative solutions aimed at improving road safety. RBT is the latest in the many innovations that we have implemented in the past to save lives." 

The RBT model was based on those used successfully around the world, in countries such as Australia. Lessons for devising the RBT operational model were drawn from the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria, where a 20 percent reduction in alcohol-related traffic injuries was achieved within two years of implementing RBT operations, he said.

Breath testing teams in distinctive RBT uniforms would conduct rapid, lightweight, vehicle check points (VCPs) at multiple locations in a single shift. “Random” referred to the VCPs that would be used, which were locations selected randomly but covering the entire operational area.

Handheld breathalyser devices would then be used to screen motorists for alcohol. The testing teams would operate day and night, on a shift basis covering any day of the week. RBT operations would be over and above normal traffic law enforcement activities.

"As RBT is rolled out in the coming months we believe  that it will have a positive impact on behaviour on our roads and that more and more people will make the life-saving decision not to drink and drive."

As part of this initiative Safely Home had also produced a television advert highlighting the dangers of drinking and driving and alerting the public to the roll-out of RBT. The pilot project would also be supported online under the Safely Home calendar theme for July “Alcohol and the Roads Don’t Mix” under the hashtag #BoozeFreeRoads, Grant said.

African News Agency (ANA)

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