Equipped with a new gadget that can show results in five seconds, highway police in Chattogram have started checking for drunk drivers on highways, with an aim to minimise road accidents.
Officials said these alcohol-detecting devices -- known commonly as breathalysers -- were imported from China recently and distributed to every police station and outpost of highway police across the country.
Although this kind of devices have long been used in countries across the world, Bangladesh police have started using the devices only recently, including three highways of Chattogram from Sunday.
This correspondent visited Patiya Crossing of Chattogram-Cox’s Bazar Highway yesterday morning where police were seen testing alcohol level in transport workers’ bloodstream.
On-duty police personnel were seen asking drivers to take the mouthpiece of the tester into their mouth and blow into it. After five seconds, the result would display on the screen.
“The device can only detect alcohol and it is capable of detecting up to 100ml of alcohol consumption,” inspector Bimal Chandra Bhowmik, in-charge of Patiya Highway Police Outpost told The Daily Star.
“After breathing into the mouthpiece, if the driver is drunk, the device shows “YES” on the display, with the level of the alcohol, and then police can file a case against him under section 144 of the Motor Vehicle Ordinance,” said Inspector Bimal.
“There is a built-in printer inside the device. If anyone is found positive in the test, the driver’s name, vehicle number, his licence number and other information would be put in it and printed out as a slip,” he further said, adding that although drinking is not too prevalent among drivers in Bangladesh, some drivers of the hilly district (Rangamati, Bandarban, Khagrachhari) sometimes consume locally-brewed alcohol.
Sub-inspector Mujibur Rahaman of the outpost -- who got training to use the device -- told The Daily Star, “The device is able to detect alcohol level within an hour of consumption.”
“It cannot detect drugs like yaba or marijuana,” he added.
Md Malek, a truck driver who was coming from Cox’s Bazar to Chattogram and passed the test, told this correspondent, “This is a good initiative. Now, drivers will be cautious to not consume alcohol before driving.”
Assistant Superintendent of Police Shafiqul Islam Sikdar of Cumilla Highway Zone, said, “Highway police are using the devices to conduct drives in different parts of the highway round the clock.”
“It will minimise road accidents on the highway as drivers will be more careful,” the ASP added.