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Road Fatalities by excessive Alcohol Consumption

in Trinidad and Tobago

and the measures to reduce it.

Tevin Francis

Claudette Lewis


Abstract……………………………………………………………………. 3

Introduction ………………………………………………………………. 4

Effects of drinking on drivers ……………………………………………. 4-5

Road fatalities and laws to enforce them in Trinidad…………………………….5-6

Raising age limit……………………………………………………………………… 6

Breathlyser placement in bars……………………………………………………….. 6-7

Create a new policy…………………………………………………………………… 7-8

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………………… 8


This essay explores the measures of intervention on the effects of excessive alcohol consumption

and its relation to road traffic accidents and deaths. The contents in the essay varies from the

definitions, effects of drinking and driving, road accident rates and driving laws in Trinidad and

Tobago and the methods of preventing these rates. Legge & Park (1994) suggest changing

certain laws and creating ones to enforce an effective legal threat to society by means of severity.

For example increase taxes, harsher fines and a low Blood alcohol concentration (BAC) level for

breathalyzer analysis. The purpose of this essay is to inform the public and right authority on

taking three types of preventions to decrease the high mortality rates by road accidents in

Trinidad and Tobago.

Keywords: alcohol, consumption, road, accidents, deaths, laws, preventions, Trinidad, Tobago

In World Health Organization report (2014) stated Trinidad and Tobago has a high age

standardized death rate in alcohol road accidents in males, 28.8% while 13.6% is females that is

from the age of 15 years and older. National maximum Blood alcohol concentration 0.08% and

the Age limit to drink and buy alcohol at 18 years old. A drug is an illegal substance which is

any natural or artificial chemical taken for pleasure or to improve a person’s performance

(Cambridge Dictionary, 2017). Alcohol is an organic compound used for sweeteners or making

perfumes. For alcoholic beverages, ethanol is the main intoxicating ingredient (Cambridge

Dictionary, 2017). MedicineNet Medical dictionary (n.d.) states it is an organic substance used in

alcoholic beverages. It acts as a central nervous system depressant and may be part of solutions

like antiseptics and medications. Fatality is a death caused by an accident or by violence

(Cambridge Dictionary, 2017). In order to decrease road fatalities in men of Trinidad and

Tobago, the government should raise the age limit for alcohol consumption and to buy alcohol,

to place a breathalyser in bars and to create a new policy for driving under the influence of


Firstly, there are effects of consuming alcohol which occurs physiologically and

psychologically in the human body. In Vaillant & Keller’s (2016) article on alcohol consumption

stated alcohol when ingested is quickly absorbed through the stomach and the small intestine

through the bloodstream and processed in the liver. The absorbed alcohol is greatly diluted by

the body fluids and is diffused in proportion to the water present in tissues and organs (Vaillant

& Keller, 2016). This shows that a high concentration of alcohol in the blood and brain than in

muscles and fats. Alcohol can depressed the brain’s central nervous system causing slurred

speech and impaired physical coordination (Uschan, 2002). The brain fatty material absorbs this

organic compound with ease via blood which was pumped to the brain (Uschan, 2002). The liver

eliminate 0.5 ounces of alcohol every hour, any amount of alcohol consumed higher than

eliminated causes the level of blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to rise (Uschan, 2002). The

blood alcohol concentration is used to calculate or measure the effects of alcohol (Vaillant &

Keller, 2016). Countries have offences for alcohol impaired driving where the legal Blood

alcohol concentration is in the range 0.05-0.08 % while others are lower (Vaillant & Keller,

2016). A driver’s performance is affected by alcohol drinking as low as 0.02% BAC, the reaction

time of a driver is affected and the decision making process is slow (Hingson, 2001). Fatal road

crashes or any alcohol related incidents occurs at 0.05-0.09% BAC causing lack of judgement

and self control, poor balance, speech and memory (Hingson, 2001). The effects of alcohol are

threatening and can’t be ignore where its involvement in road fatalities causing death rates to be

too high worldwide especially in Trinidad and Tobago.

Secondly, Trinidad and Tobago population totaled as 1,353,895 persons in 2016 according

to the Central Statistical Office’s Population, Social and Vital Statistics Division. This is

approximately 1.4 million persons consists of 679,288 males and 674,607 females. Since 2008,

there were 273 recorded transports accident deaths (CSO, 2017). In Arrive Alive data site (2017)

between 2016 and 2017, 8% decrease in road traffic accidents and a 9% decrease in deaths. The

minimum age limit for sales of alcoholic beverages is 18 years as related by Section 60(1) of the

Liquor licenses Act Cap 84:10, 1955 (Khan, 2017). The Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act

2007 was amended where the law introduced the use of a breathalyser (Khan, 2017). Any driver

with a BAC which is greater than the legal BAC 0.08% would be fined $8,000 or imprisonment

for three years for the first offence (Khan, 2017). The second offence is $15,000 or imprisonment

for five years also permanent disqualification from holding or obtaining a driver’s permit for the

third offence (Khan, 2017). The laws of Trinidad and Tobago show its effectiveness by a slight

decrease in roadside deaths though there are some measures recommended to curb this issue.

Thirdly, is the one of the proposed measures to reduce road accident deaths in Trinidad

and Tobago is raising the minimum age limit to 21 years old. About 20.4% of the population of

Trinidad and Tobago are heavy episodic drinkers from the age 15 years and older (WHO, 2014).

From a WHO alcohol status report 2014, 115 countries minimum age limit is 18 years old to

consume or for sales on and off premises. Within the legal age limit, high income countries have

20% of road fatalities and a range 33-69% in low income countries. In the USA, Wagenaar and

Wolfson (1998) stated there was a 10-15 % decline in youth drinking and road accidents due to

the minimum age limit was raised to 21 years old across 50 states. A blog by Stanford

University, Lia Steakley said 900 lives were saved by the new legal age limit recoded by

National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Over two decades rates in drinking and

drunk driving reduced by 54% in America (Steakley, 2014). These studies show that a minimum

age limit for alcohol is effective but an older age limit is likely to deter the rates of young people

driving drunk and drinking (WHO, 2014). At this point, an older age for minimum age limit will

help reduce high road accident deaths but increasing the placements of breathalyzer can.

Next, the third measure to reduce alcohol road casualty by placing breathlysers in bars. This

device was introduced in 2007 in the Motor Vehicles and Road Traffic Act Chap. 48:50 (Nathu,

2014). It’s illegal to have blood alcohol concentration above 0.08% when one is stopped at

sobriety checkpoint by the police. At these checkpoints two separate specimens for breath

analysis must be provided with the instructions of an authorized officer (Nathu, 2014). The

specimens must be taken at intervals in a range between 2-10 minutes. The lower of the two

specimens is used as the result of breathlyser analysis (Nathu, 2014). In India, Uber Mumbai and

Mumbai Traffic Police collaborated to curb alcohol drinking and driving in the busy city by

installing Uber breathalyzer in bars and kiosks that sell alcohol (Traffic Staff, 2016). The French

Breathalyser (2017) article stated former President Sarkozy promised France to cut drunk

driving. In March 2011, a law was introduced to cut the toll of deaths by vehicles at 25%. This

law was every motorist must carry a breathalyzer kit with his person (French Breathalyser,

2017). Later on in 2012, the government of France instructed bars to installed breathalysers in

the bars hence road accident rates started to decrease (French Breathalyser, 2017). Overall,

excessive drinking of alcohol brings threatening effects to the society of Trinidad and Tobago,

increase in breathalysers use in the country will curb rates help create new laws for substance


Lastly, countries with issues of high alcohol drinking and alcohol related incidents need to

create new policy to target the issue of this substance alcohol. Trinidad and Tobago has

implemented certain measures to curb high rates of road fatality with the help of a breathalyser

and fine along with requirements of a legal BAC level (Khan, 2017). The amended Motor

Vehicles Act is currently in used to aid in this issue but visually it isn’t enough. In order to create

this new policy, an example to follow is from policies in USA to target the issue of impaired

driving (Legge & Park, 1994). A deterrence model can be used from a article by Legge & Park

(1994), it contains three elements; certainty, severity and celerity to get the effectiveness of the

law as a legal threat. Examples of these laws like higher age limit, minimum BAC level and

mandatory seat belts to increase severity of punishment to society (Legge & Park, 1994). World

Health Organization (2014) recommended to apply excise taxes on sale and production of

alcohol in link with the country’s economic status. The increase in taxes reduces alcohol

drinking as shown in a relationship between alcohol taxes and alcohol related incidents and

health risks (Kenkel, 1998). Other laws can be reducing the BAC to 0.05% from 0.08% for

breathlyser checks (CDC, 2017). Important input of the policy is bar hours where in the city of

Diadema, Brazil bars closing hour is until to 11pm, reducing alcohol related homicides by 44%

(Duailibi et al, 2007). Duailibi et al, (2007) said in comparison to outlets and bars extended their

closing time between 12-1am in countries like North America, Europe and Australia. Although

the effects of heavy alcohol drinking link to road traffic deaths, the laws of a country should be

amended or created to deal with the issue.

The minimum age limit for alcohol drinking and sales, placement of breathalysers in

bars and forming a new policy for alcohol impaired driving will cause a decline in road fatalities

in men of Trinidad and Tobago. The implementation of an older age than the current age limit of

18 years to consume liquor. Installment of breathalysers in all bars or kiosks and make a new act

for alcohol impaired driving. These measures will be useful alongside current legal laws and

interventions to decline road accident rates but all alcohol related incidents or health risks. Many

people believe that the traffic accident deaths in Trinidad and Tobago are a little higher in

females than men though the rates won’t decrease by targeting the age limit, breathalyser

installment and law making, is the common culture of episodic drinking in the population need to

be dealt with. In conclusion, we as individuals need to take responsibility in consuming alcohol

in public and within our homes in order to decrease the harsh effects of alcohol consumption.


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