CADA Chairman’s Speech To Hamilton Rotarians

April 12, 2012

CADA Chairman Anthony Santucci spoke yesterday evening [Apr.11] to the Hamilton Rotarians on sobriety checkpoints and other matters. The full text of his speech follows below.

Good afternoon President Barrett Dill, Hamilton Rotary members, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to stand here before you again today. Believe it or not, this is the sixth time I will be speaking before your membership in my capacity as Chairman of CADA, encouraging responsible alcohol behavior.

As I have in the past, my talk today will look at the objectives and activities CADA has undertaken during April, which is Alcohol Awareness Month.

At the start of each year, CADA’s board comes together to begin the planning process for April. We determine our objectives and brainstorm some great ideas of what we could put in place to ensure that by the end of April our community has a greater understanding of responsible alcohol behavior. Our ultimate aim is to change Bermuda’s culture towards alcohol.

The objectives we set for Alcohol Awareness Month 2012 are:

  • to increase public awareness on the importance of keeping alcohol out of the hands of children and teens; and
  • to raise public awareness about roadside sobriety checkpoints, how they operate and the results they can achieve.

Our first objective – keeping alcohol out of the hands of our children and teens is a focus we maintain throughout the year, not just in April.

A program we have had in the schools over the years is Life Skills training. One of the goals of Life Skills is to ensure students have the tools they need to address situations they may find themselves facing. Life Skills teaches them how to reject offers of drugs and alcohol, how to address peer pressure and what to do if they are in difficult situations.

Students are at times confronted with less than ideal circumstances at home or they may be dealing with highly emotional issues. Life Skills equips them and creates an awareness of what they can do to help themselves, which may be as simple as writing their feelings down or going for a walk to help diffuse their feelings or finding a responsible adult who may be able to provide assistance.

While helping students, CADA has also launched a program to provide support to parents. Parents need to be given tools that will aid them to talk with their children. It is recognized that parents should begin talking with their kids about not using alcohol or drugs when they are around five years old.

Many would think this is far too young to start. However, we know that in a 2007 survey of 3,000 of Bermuda’s youth aged between 13 and 18 years old, 67% of those surveyed said they had tried alcohol and in the same survey the youngest age for first use of alcohol was 11 years old. Thus it is imperative that parents begin talking early with their children.

Research indicates those who begin drinking alcohol before the age of 15 are four times more likely to develop alcohol addiction than those who wait until age 21.

We know that parents are willing to talk, but they don’t always know what to say. On our website we have created an easy “cheat sheet” which provides parents with all the information they need. This information is also available at our offices in the Melbourne Building on the corner of Church and Parliament Streets, and we brought copies for you today.

I am also pleased to report we have translated this information into Portuguese which we believe goes a long way to helping many sectors of our community to have this important conversation.

It may surprise you, but the number one place children get alcohol is in the home, yours or someone else’s. Our standard advice is, lock the alcohol away or don’t keep it in the house at all.

You may have seen CADA’s 60 second TV ad featuring board member, Mr. Kim White. One of the most quoted statements in the video dialogue is, “how am I supposed to keep my beers cold?” after Kim is told to look his alcohol away.

CADA’s website has a great deal of information on actions parents can take to ensure alcohol stays out of the hands of their children and what they can say to their kids.

As part of our awareness month activities we created a video competition in which students between the ages of 9 and 18 years old, were invited to enter a video which focused on “what children and teens can do to prevent alcohol use amongst their friends, and why this is important”.

We know young people listen to and positively influence their peers. So we created the competition, inviting schools and youth groups to develop a video focused on this topic.

I have to tell you, we were astounded by the entries. A lot of time, thought and attention was given to the development of the stories for the videos. We received ten entries and the board had the unenviable task of selecting just one.

Before I share with you who won, I have to thank all the students and all who assisted with the creation of their video. One of the primary schools and a few organizations submitted more than one entry.

The winning entry was submitted by The Berkeley Institute, Peer Helpers. Please take a few minutes, when you leave here today, to look at our website, to see the winning video. You will also find CADA’s 60 second ad featuring, the aforementioned, Kim White. Both can also be seen on Cablevision’s community channel 100. We were also granted permission by the Bermuda organizers of the CARIFTA games to show the videos on their large screen during the games.

I would now like to spend a few minutes talking about roadside sobriety check points – what are they, how do they work, and what results can they achieve?

Roadside sobriety checkpoints are temporary or mobile installations set up by the local police department, usually late at night or during the early hours of the morning – when the majority of road traffic fatalities are recorded.

The police decide ahead of time that every nth vehicle will be stopped. In other words, the police decide ahead of time that they will stop every 10th vehicle, or every 20th vehicle. Once that decision has been made, the checkpoint begins.

The driver of each vehicle stopped is roadside breath tested.

If the roadside test is good, i.e. not above the legal limit of alcohol, the person is quickly moved on. We like to say, “You’re stopped, you blow, if you’re good, you go.”

If however the roadside breath test shows at or above a certain level of alcohol, the person is transported to the Police Station or to the Police Command Vehicle for the fully calibrated alcohol breathalyzer machine test.

This process is called “non-selective testing”. Non-selective, because it is non-discriminatory, there is no room for profiling in any way. It is an entirely impartial, unbiased, process.

Administrations that have had the greatest success in reducing the number of people who drink and then drive have accompanied these check points with an extensive awareness campaign, so that the public knows when the check points will be in place.

CADA’s research shows that jurisdictions who have implemented sobriety checkpoints, together with an extensive communications campaign, have met with outstanding results.

Ireland adopted this practice and the number of crashes fell by 19% and their current rate of road fatalities is below the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) average at 6.7 per 100,000.

When Australia instituted sobriety checkpoints in 1976, they witnessed a dramatic reduction in drivers killed and their current rate of road fatalities is also below the OECD average at 7.9 per 100,000.

Currently, under Bermuda’s laws, there are no provisions for the Bermuda Police Service to demand and take breath samples on the road. At CADA, we believe that roadside sobriety checkpoints should be implemented, to save the lives of our residents.

According to the OECD, Bermuda has one of the highest rates of road fatalities – 20 per 100,000. The OECD average is 9.6 per 100,000.

And we know that the vast majority of the road traffic deaths in Bermuda involve alcohol and or drugs.

Raising the awareness of sobriety checkpoints and how they work, and the results they can achieve, will, we hope, demystify the practice. We want to urge like-minded individuals and organizations to join us as we encourage the Bermuda Government to support and implement changes in the law to give the Bermuda Police Service the powers they need to institute roadside sobriety checkpoints.

I am pleased to inform you that CADA is not alone in our call for this. We have been in talks with the Bermuda Road Safety Council and the Bermuda Police Service who, in principle, support this goal. Our meetings with them will continue.

I will add, that in the 2011 Throne speech it was stated, and I quote, “There will be less tolerance for impaired driving offences. The Government will table legislation to increase penalties for drunk driving and to expand the use of breathalyzers.”

This statement was warmly welcomed by CADA’s board and we look forward to working with the various ministries and agencies to bring these measures to fruition.

Other countries are also actively working to implement this program.

The United Kingdom House of Commons Select Committee on Transport stated in November 2010, and I quote, “The UK Government should amend the Road Traffic Act 1988 to give police an additional power to enable preliminary breath tests to be required and administered in the course of a designated drink drive enforcement operation.”

Likewise, in Canada, in June 2009, the Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights released an all-party report containing recommendations to prohibit and punish impaired driving. One of the key recommendations was to enact legislation authorizing the police to adopt sobriety checkpoints with the view of ending drinking and driving.

Ladies, and gentlemen, thank you very much for your time today. I invite you lend your voice to ours as we embark on the education process of sharing with the residents of Bermuda the benefits of roadside sobriety checkpoints.

Lend your voice to ours as we work with legislators to enact laws that will give police the powers they need to implement roadside sobriety checkpoints so that one day we can say without hesitation that drinking and driving has been eradicated from Bermuda’s roads.

Thank you.

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