Carnival revellers appear to be partying more responsibility, as the TT Police Service (TTPS) notes that fewer drunk drivers are being stopped during routine roadblocks, and increased use of designated drivers and hired transport.
“Last year during routine stops, we would have had to arrest nearly 15 to 30 people per exercise for being over the limit, but there’s a decrease this year,” Insp Sampooran Kissoonlal of the Traffic and Highway Patrol Branch told Newsday.
On Saturday night an exercise in Port of Spain netted eight people for Driving Under the Influence (DUI), and another in Arima on Friday caught four people, he said.
The TTPS will be increasing its patrols, Kissoonlal added, with checkpoints outside the major fetes– and the minor ones– as well as at major highway intersections.
These exercises shouldn’t be a surprise to drivers, he said. “We want them to know we are out there and we are monitoring. We want drivers to know that more important than us conducting these exercises is the fact they need to get home safely. We want these excersises to be the mitigating factor.”
There will also be increased “voluntary checkpoints” at fetes, where drivers can check their blood alcohol levels before leaving, and if they are over the breathalyser’s 35 micrograms of alcohol per breath limit, they can relax until they are good to go.
It’s a culture shift, TTPS Road Safety Co-ordinator, Brent Batson said.
“It’s not that people aren’t drinking, but they are below the legal limit.
“People are being more responsible, using private transport, maxi-taxis, shuttles.” He did note, though, that mobile apps Waze and What’s App groups are incresingly being used to alert drivers of police exercises, so there has also been an effort to improve patrols along main roads.
He parised awareness campaigns by the TTPS and advocacy groups like Arrive Alive for heightened awareness among the population, although he did note that the majority of DUI offenders tended to be in the 25-55 age group.
Arrive Alive president, Sharon Inglefield, congratulated the positive change in behaviour, especially among young people. Arrive Alive focuses on young people driving responsibly, she said, because the majority of fatalities occur among young men under 35. She also had a stark reminder for risk takers: “Drinking and driving is a criminal offense and if convicted, they wiil go on your record for life, so please consider the consequneces of making poor decisions.”