South African drivers urged to drink responsibly

[Image]SAB’s innovative alcohol evidence centres,
located in major cities around the country,
have helped increase the number of
successful drunk driving prosecutions.
(Image: SABMiller)

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Lyndon Jaftha

South African Breweries (SAB) has unveiled No Regret Friday, a movement that falls under the company’s successful anti-alcohol abuse campaign Reality Check.

SAB made the announcement on 1 July 2011. The new campaign calls for South Africans to drink responsibly, especially if driving is involved, and thus have no cause for regrets.

Launched in 2009, Reality Check tackles the issues of underage drinking, drinking and driving, and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome, in a pro-active manner that goes beyond just communicating.

The brewing giant invested R6.5-million (US$946 000) into the establishment of five alcohol evidence centres in major cities. These operate in partnership with local and provincial law enforcement, and have helped to successfully prosecute those nabbed for driving under the influence.

South Africa is known for its high road death toll and, according to South Africans Against Drunk Driving, half of the 18 000+ annual fatalities occur in accidents where alcohol is involved.

South Africans consume 5-billion litres of alcohol a year, which makes for a deadly combination with the country’s accident rate – hence the need for an innovative extension of the Reality Check campaign.

Dr Vincent Maphai, SAB’s executive director of corporate affairs, said: “When it comes to drinking and driving, SAB is uncompromising. We feel the time has come to change both perceptions and behaviour when it comes to the irresponsible consumption of alcohol.”

Responsible behaviour

Because recent survey results released by Ipsos Markinor have shown that 91% of drinking happens on a Saturday, the SAB will air radio reminders every Friday to get South Africans into a responsible frame of mind.

In enlisting popular and influential celebrities such as Springbok rugby player Schalk Burger, controversial DJ Gareth Cliff, and Bafana Bafana coach Pitso Mosimane as ambassadors for the campaign, SAB encourages South Africans to make a pledge for responsible drinking and against drunk driving.

The campaign’s website shares real stories by real people about their tragic losses, or their lucky escapes. In so doing, SAB hopes to get people thinking about those times when they end up in a similar, perhaps identical situation, and what they can do to prevent it ending badly.

Moderation is the key

To date SAB has spent over R100-million ($14.6-million) on initiatives aimed at promoting responsible drinking and fighting alcohol abuse. This includes campaigns as well as the alcohol evidence centres which have proven to change the drinking and driving behaviour of those processed by 51%.

The law does not protect anyone caught driving under the influence. Several recent incidents involving high-profile personalities have ended up in court and received extensive coverage in the media. SAB aims to show that people don’t have to overindulge when they go out for a night on the town – but that moderation is the key.

Do your research; know what the legal limit is, and find out how many of your favourite drinks you can have before you reach that point. Stick to the limit, obey the law and encourage others around you to do the same.

Should you drink one too many, the No Regret Friday site also gives tips on how to get home safely, such as hiring a cab, or handing over the car keys to a sober driver.