'Salman verdict will send message to drunk drivers'

Filmstar Salman Khan’s conviction for drunk driving death by a Mumbai court on Wednesday has once sparked debate over a problem which plagues even Delhi roads.

A recent survey reveals that drunk driving has been responsible for at least 70 per cent of all fatal road accidents in the capital.

A report by Community Against Drunken Driving (CADD) states that the percentage of accidents caused by inebriated drivers in Delhi has been steadily rising since 2010, when it was 62 per cent.

According to Delhi Police, 226 fatal accidents and 1,029 simple accidents were reported till March 1 this year. Police had also recorded 1,629 fatal accidents in 2014, 1,822 in 2013, 2,047 in 2012 and 2,104 in 2011.

The highest number of fatal accidents since 2001 was recorded in 2010 when 2,272 cases were reported. The lowest was 1,641 fatal accidents in 2002.

CADD founder and activist Prince Singhal has termed the Salman Khan verdict as exemplary which will change the way drunk driving is perceived in the country. “Even though the Salman Khan verdict took more than 13 years to come, but it does send out a new message to the world that we are not soft on drunk driving,” he says.

The CADD report also reveals that only two to five per cent of the drunk drivers are sent to jail, while the rest are let off on the spot after paying a fine of Rs 2,000 or Rs 3,000.

According to Special Commissioner of Police (Traffic) Muktesh Chander, an inebriated driver is at a greater risk of breaking road rules and fall prey to acts like road rage, speeding, jumping traffic signals and violating other road safety norms.

“Drinking and driving is a choice that a driver makes and therefore it is an intentional act as a drunk driver knows or should know that getting behind the wheel will likely cause serious injury or death to herself or innocent people on the road ways,” he added.

Police have also been considering booking drunk drivers involved in fatal accidents under section 304 (culpable homicide) of the Indian Penal Code instead of section 304-A (causing death due to negligence). Most drunk drivers are also asked to go through a counseling session.

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