Wreck sends graphic warning to drink-drivers

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 19 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 19 December, 2009, 12:00am

A wrecked car is the latest shock tactic used by the police to warn people not to drink and drive at Christmas.

The mangled vehicle was put on display yesterday at the entrance to the Cross-Harbour Tunnel in Causeway Bay, providing a stark reminder to drivers of the dangers of getting behind the wheel after taking a tipple.

A huge bottle embedded in the car reads: 'If you drink, don't drive!'

The vehicle, wrecked in an accident, will be displayed until March 15.

'This serves as a reminder to the public, especially drivers, that the possible result of drink-driving will be a fatal accident and unforgettable remorse,' said Yu Kam-kee, of the Road Safety Campaign Committee.

Superintendent Shirley Chu Ming-po of traffic branch headquarters said the wreck would attract attention. Although the display was shocking, it would not block the view of drivers or distract them, and traffic in the tunnel was usually slow.

Police figures certainly suggest that people need reminding. Eighty people were arrested for drink-driving from December 18 to January 4 in 2006-07. This soared to 136 in 2008-09. The number of accidents caused by people driving under the influence of alcohol increased from three to seven over this period.

Officers will step up enforcement action, including random breath testing, over Christmas and New Year. Messages warning against drink-driving will be shown on video walls at shopping hot spots such as Times Square, Harbour City and various others over the period.

There has been some good news in the battle against drink-driving. The introduction of random breath tests has proved to be successful in keeping drivers sober.

Up to yesterday, 36,226 drivers had been tested since the introduction of random breath tests in February. Some 249 drivers had been arrested, making up about a quarter of the total arrests for drink-driving.

The number of accidents related to drink-driving has dropped 61.2 per cent since the introduction of the random tests. From February to November, there were 221 such accidents, compared with 570 for the same period last year.

The chairwoman of the General Insurance Council, Agnes Choi, said some drivers had misunderstood clauses in their insurance policies and thought they would still get payouts for crashing their cars even if they were drunk. 'Motor insurance policies exclude the insurers' responsibility to provide indemnity when the liability arises from the vehicle being used by the driver who is under the influence of alcohol,' she said.

David Leung Siu-cheong, chairman of the Taxi Operators Association, said he was already used to seeing displays of wrecked cars.

They were first put into use after the opening of Tuen Mun Road in the 1970s and over the years they had been placed at traffic black spots and beside the road at various spots.

But the practice had not been used for several years. 'It's not creative but it may be effective on new drivers,' he said.

The chairman of the Motor Transport Workers General Union, Pang Kong-cheung, remembered there used to be a similar display at the Tai Lam Tunnel.

'It was effective as a reminder for drivers,' he said.

Leung and Pang said the wrecked cars had not distracted drivers in the past and they did not expect any problems with the new display.