Fifteenth 'Weekend without alcohol behind the wheel' in full swing
A new edition of the 'Weekend without alcohol behind the wheel' kicked off at 6 pm on Friday. Federal and local police are checking car and truck drivers for drink-driving at 335 locations across Belgium this weekend.
In the previous edition, in June 2022, 2.15 per cent of drivers checked were driving under the influence. Six months earlier, the percentage was 2.29 per cent. Last year, nearly 5,000 accidents could be linked to car or truck drivers driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. "That is human and material damage and financial consequences that are avoidable," says police commissioner Nick Gyselinck. "We must keep raising the alarm and awareness. Every offence is one too many."
The evolution over the years shows that younger generations are getting caught less for drink-driving. At the same time, however, figures for drink-driving are rising. For example, in 2021, 484 accidents with injuries were recorded due to drug use, compared to 345 in 2019. The 2022 figures are not yet complete, but from January to September 2022, already 400 accidents were registered.
More saliva tests
As a reaction, the federal government provides 100,000 extra saliva tests yearly for police to check for drug use behind the wheel. "People don't realise that if you use cannabis in traffic, you are twice as likely to get into an accident," Justice minister Van Quickenborne (Open VLD) said. "If you use ecstasy, that chance is even 30 times higher. So that is why we emphasise controls and drug testing heavily."
Interior minister Verlinden (CD&V) favours zero tolerance for alcohol and drugs in traffic. "I am convinced we should move towards zero tolerance because we should do everything we can to avoid casualties. However, this requires a political debate, including with the mobility minister."
It is the 15th time the federal and local police have organised the weekend. There will be checks at 335 locations in Belgium. The action will continue until Monday, 16 January, at 6 am.
© BELGA PHOTO BENOIT DOPPAGNE
© BELGA VIDEO INE GILLIS