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Times of India
25 March 2010
By Megha Suri Singh & Ruhi Bhasin
New Delhi, India

SO THAT NO ONE ELSE DIES: French national Delphine Muhlbacher (left), who lost a friend to drunken driving, is visiting pubs in the city and distributing disposable breathalysers among youngsters to put the brakes on such incidents
After losing her friend – who was an alumnus of Indian Institute of Management (IIM)-Indore – in a road accident caused by drunken driving in Delhi two years ago, French national Delphine Muhlbacher decided to do her bit to prevent the menace. The 27-year-old is visiting pubs in the city and distributing disposable breathalysers – used to check the level of alcohol in blood – to youths aged between 25 and 35 years in an attempt to bring down instances of accidents caused by drunken driving. Headlight, a group of youngsters from India and France, was formed in 2009 when Delphine and 19 other friends got together and decided to do their bit to contain the number of road deaths caused by drunken driving in Delhi.

‘‘We lost a very dear friend, Nikhil, in a road accident on January 1, 2009. He was on the rear seat when the car was hit by a speeding truck, driven by a drunk driver. This incident triggered us to do something to save many more precious lives,’’ said Delphine.

She now divides her time travelling between France and India. After forming Headlight and doing their bit of research on the road

safety scenario in the city, the group has finally embarked on their first campaign. They are visiting pubs and nightclubs in the city to make people aware of the ills of drunken driving. Their focus is on youngsters who like to go out, drink and party. ‘‘All of us like to drink and have fun and hence we are all potential targets of drunken driving. The idea is not to preach – we don’t want to stop people from drinking. But at the same time, there are options like calling a cab or hiring a chauffeur to take you back home safe,’’ she said.

Over the past one week, Headlight has been distributing breathalysers – procured from France – free of cost to youngsters in the capital so that they can test themselves to find out whether they are fit to drive before they set out from a party. ‘‘I realised that disposable breathalysers are not available in India. So we got in touch with a EU certified company based in France and got them to manufacture the breath analysers for Indian standards. The ones we are distributing reflect the permissible limits as per the Indian laws,’’ said Delphine.

Most of their funding comes from family and friends. A one-time-use packet costs about Rs 60 with taxes and several pubs have shown an interest in importing these.

It’s simple to use. All one needs to do is open the packet and blow into the nozzle attached to the bag with full force and then attach the test tube provided with the packet to the nozzle and press the packet to deflate it. If the test tube turns green, it means the person has consumed alcohol. A dotted line on the test tube marks the permissible limit to drive as per Indian standards. If the green colour crosses the line, the person is not fit to drive as per the law.

Unlike normal breathalysers which are used by the traffic police and which have come under criticism for being unhygienic, these are for one time use. Also, youngsters can test themselves and need’t make the result public.

Experts, however, say that these can’t be used by the traffic police since the results might not always be accurate. ‘‘To measure the level of alcohol in blood, one needs to test the air from the chest and not the mouth. So unless the person blows into the packet hard, the test results might not be accurate,’’ said an expert.

Liquor Test 1
Open the packet and blow air with full force into the nozzle attached to the bag 2
Attach the test tube provided with the packet to the nozzle 3
Press the packet to deflate it and then check the test tube 4

If the test tube turns green, the person has consumed alcohol. A dotted line on the test tube marks the permissible limit, as per Indian standards. If the green colour crosses the line, the person is not fit to drive

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