Traffic police step up drink-driving checks for DashainMetropolitan Traffic Police Division has booked 800 drivers in the past four days. Concerns over virus transmission risk from shared breathalysers.
Traffic police have intensified anti-drink driving checks in Kathmandu Valley in view of the Dashain festival.
According to the Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, around 800 people were booked for driving under the influence of alcohol in the last four days.
“We started checks for drink driving from Thursday and we plan to make these checks more stringent in the days to come,” said Senior Superintendent of Police Sanjib Sharma Das, also the spokesperson of the division.
“As the Dashain holidays have begun, there will be more drinking which means the more likelihood of people driving while drunk and getting into road accidents.”
The traffic division has set up 132 check posts across the Valley to crack down on drink driving.
Police say drink driving cases have gone up in Kathmandu after night businesses including pubs and restaurants reopened following months-long closure due to Covid-19 pandemic.
Some health officials and members of the public meanwhile have expressed concerns over the use of breathalysers on drivers, saying the threat of Covid-19 transmission is not over yet.
“I had seen police using the same breathalyser device on different persons. We are still in the midst of a Covid-19 pandemic but the traffic police do not seem concerned about virus transmission,” complained Jeevan Thapa Magar, a resident of Taudaha.
“I’m not saying there should not be drink-driving checks. All I’m saying is that the traffic police ought to be more careful, especially while using those breathalyser devices on motorists.”
Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, chief of the Clinical Research Unit at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital in Teku, says breathalyser tests if not carried out properly could increase the transmissibility of the coronavirus.
Breathalyser tests require a person to blow into the device through a nozzle to measure alcohol content in his or her breath. Since the coronavirus is mostly transmitted through respiratory droplets of an infected person, health experts say there is a high risk of breathalyser devices getting contaminated if not used in strict sanitary conditions.
“Covid-19 threat is still not over. Moreover, there has been a spike in viral influenza cases in recent times. Traffic police personnel as well as motorists will be at risk if the breathalyser devices are not used properly. I highly recommend the traffic police to take health and safety precautions,” said Pun.
Das, the spokesperson of Metropolitan Traffic Police Division, said the drunk driving checks were being carried out for the safety of the public and claimed that they were following proper health and safety protocols.
He also said that it was wrong to single out the use of breathalysers as a virus transmission medium.
“If you go to the markets, they are full of people. Same is the case with restaurants and bars. Political rallies and mass gatherings are taking place almost every day. So I don’t think it’s fair to say that the traffic police are increasing the risk of virus transmission,” argued Das. “We are only doing our job.”