Roadside Breathalyzer Checks set to Resume in Addis

ADDIS ABABA – Traffic police officers are set to resume carrying out an alcohol breathalyzer test on Addis Ababa roads.

The random breath test to detect drunk drivers has been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The city’s traffic management Authority (TMA) says the sobriety test will be reinstated starting next week to curb alcohol-impaired driving.

Drink driving is among the major risk factors for road traffic crashes which cause the death of at least 13 people in a day, nationally.

The current Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) drink driving limit is 0.8 grams per liter of blood or 0.4 milligrams per liter of breathing.

Its enforcement in Addis Ababa involving random roadside screening began in 2015 and helped the city to record positive results immediately.

According to a 2020 UNECA report, drunk driving reduced from 9.7 percent in 2015 to 1 percent in 2019.

Authorities, however, put a break on the alcohol breathalyzer test of drivers due to the pandemic.

Currently, the situation has returned to a point where the measures against driving beyond the legal limit can be reinstated, Ayalew Abdisa, Director of TMA’s Traffic administration, told ENA today,

Prior to the pause, the operation was facing major challenges due to the failure of breathalyzers and calibration issues.

The director has said enough preparation has been made to resolve the issues ahead of the return of roadside checks. This involves, Ayalew says, the procurement of 75 more “state of the art devices” worth 75 million Birr and offering training to traffic officers on how to effectively use them.

Accordingly, the director said the traffic officers will begin enforcing the roadside check as of Monday, January 1, 2024.

Most road crash victims in the capital are pedestrians, making up over 80 percent of the fatalities.

Apart from drunk driving, excessive speeding, inadequate pedestrian facilities, street lighting at night, and enforcement of legislation are often blamed for the accidents.