Recently, the Goa government announced a proposal to curb accidents caused due to drunken driving. According to the proposal, bar and restaurants will have to mandatorily arrange cab transport for drunken customers so that they reach home safely rather than driving back in their own cars and risking accidents. This proposal isn’t going down well with the bar and restaurant association of Goa. The president of this association Michael Carrasco has come out strongly against this proposal, mooted by Goa tourism minister Mauvin Godinho.
Here’s what Mr. Carrasco had to say to the minister’s proposal,
Godinho (Transport minister) says that most accidents occur because people drink and drive, we do not accept this contention…drinking and driving alone is not the cause for accidents. There are various other reasons. First of all, the roads are not in good condition; there are potholes which cause accidents. Speed breakers are not painted, there are no indicators on roads, the design is faulty. More accidents occur because of these reasons. He (transport minister) says it is our responsibility to ensure that customers are dropped home. That is not possible…. If there are app-based taxis, they can book their ride and go home. Because there are no taxis, they are forced to drive their own vehicles…to enjoy. If you speak to bar and restaurant patrons when they are drinking, they will never listen to you. They will say we have our own car, why should we travel in your car? This can cause fights.
Driving under the influence of alcohol is illegal
And the Motor Vehicle Act (MVA) prescribes strict punishment for drunk driving that includes fines of upto Rs. 10,000, license suspension for 6 months (cancellation in case of repeat offences) and even imprisonment of up to 6 months. In Goa, drunken driving is punishable with imprisonment for a term of six months or with a fine of Rs 10,000, or both.
Implementation has been lax
Goa’s economy is intertwined with tourism. Many tourists who drive to Goa in their own vehicles take advantage of the state’s low liquor prices, and drive after consuming alcohol. The state government hasn’t been cracking down on drunken driving in the same vigour as some of the other major states of India, and this has resulted in a spate of accidents. Goa has one of the highest accident rates in India – 109.4 accidents per 1 lakh population, which is four times more than the national average of 27.6.
The government in Goa seems to be finally taking cognizance of this, and the transport minister Mauvin Godinho made the following statements recently,
I am telling (transport department) officers to liaison with bars and restaurants about footfalls. (They will be told) that when somebody is drunk, it is the responsibility of the bar owner to send (the person) home by hiring a cab. Don’t send them driving their own car. This is the new norm in Goa for safety…. We will implement it very strictly.