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Addis: Breathalyzer tests shrink road rage figures

The Addis Ababa Traffic Police say the number of accidents involving drunk drivers has halved thanks to the introduction of breathalyzer tests in the Ethiopian capital four months ago.A breathalyzer is a device for estimating blood alcohol content from a breath sample.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Ethiopia, with an estimated population of over 100 million and 478,244 registered vehicles experiences 25.3 traffic fatalities per 100,000 people.

In an exclusive interview with APA on Saturday, Assefa Mezegebu, Public Relations Expert of Addis Ababa Traffic Police says following the introduction of breathalyzer tests, hundreds of drivers were found to have alcohol content in their blood and as many as 18 lower death tolls were registered over the first half of this Ethiopian fiscal year as compared to the same period last year.

Assefa attributed the reduced death toll and road accidents such as collision with pavements and roundabouts, which according to him mostly were caused by drunk drivers, to the implementation of breathalyzer testing program.

Since 2013, Ethiopia has experienced a 63 percent increase in the number of road collisions.

While a variety of factors caused these crashes, drunk driving played a significant role in the surge.

Before the breathalyzer testing program was launched, traffic police in Addis Ababa used to instruct suspected drunk drivers to stand on foot or walk on a line drawn on street to detect heavy drinking and greater risk of driving.

The Addis Ababa Traffic Police administers breathalyzer tests in selected days, places and time but mostly during holiday periods and at night.

“On the eve of Ethiopian Christmas, breathalyzer tests were administered on 2230 drivers of whom 146 drivers were found to have alcohol content in their blood and 65 of them had in excess of the legal limit, 0.04 percent.


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