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Okinawa seeks solutions to ‘worst drunk driver’ status

Date Posted: 2009-11-25

For 19 years, Okinawa has had the dubious distinction of being the worst prefecture in the nation for drunk drivers causing accidents with injuries, and it looks like the prefecture is on track to make it 20 years straight.

The Prefecture has already registered 36 accident cases involving drunk drivers this year, a statistic well above the national average. In more than 61% of the cases, drunk drivers’ excuses were “I thought police would never find me” or “I thought I drank just a little bit, so I thought it was all right to drive.” Okinawa Prefecture Police say they’re surprised by the responses.

Okinawa Prefecture Police are now gearing up to enforce new regulations on drunk driving that went into effect October 1st. Stronger penalties, including larger monetary fines, are covered by the new rules. New regulations have many points covering not only drivers, but public businesses. Restaurants and parking space operators must make signs and posters warning drivers of the dangers and penalties for driving drunk. Public safety committee personnel are also charged with promoting safe driving, and also to give lectures to families and those convicted of drunk driving.

Okinawans are being called upon as a whole to assist law enforcement by reporting drunk drivers whenever one is observed. Prefecture Police are now required to set specific dates for special anti-drunk driver campaigns and checkpoints each month. Both public officials and business owners are mandated to perform counseling and education for all employees about the dangers of drunk driving.

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