Beware perils of drinking and walking

Northlanders are putting themselves at risk when making the decision to walk home along highways after a few drinks.

Two out of the five road deaths involving alcohol in the past 12 months were pedestrians on State Highway 1.

Both are still being reviewed by the coroner but police suspect alcohol to be a factor in both cases.

Road Policing Manager Inspector Murray Hodson said people need to wake up to the danger of walking along a highway, intoxicated, and often wearing dark clothing.

"Any police officer that sees anyone walking along the road wearing dark clothing or in an unsafe manner will speak to that person and move them to a safe location," he said.

The big concern for Inspector Hodson is that drivers travelling on rural highways in the dark find it difficult to see pedestrians who are dressed in dark clothing.

The intoxication can cause people to stumble, drift and wander into the road, putting them in real danger of being hit by oncoming traffic, he said.

"Unfortunately we can't be everywhere at all times."

Inspector Hodson said Northland needs to stand up and take responsibility to ensure everyone gets home safely after drinking in taverns and pubs.

He flagged rural taverns as being of concern, because they are often on the State Highway network, with no footpaths or street lights to make the walk safer.

His advice to mates who are out at the pub for a few beers is to not leave anyone who is intoxicated on their own.

"Don't leave them by themselves and organise other means of transportation."

Parua Bay Tavern manager Tom Donelley said that while they don't get a high number of people arriving and leaving the tavern by foot, they are prepared should patrons need a lift.

He said the road outside the tavern had recently been upgraded to include a footpath and a pedestrian crossing so that people leaving the tavern to get a taxi would be safer on the road.

"We have two courtesy vans that are used to get people home," he said, to ensure everyone's journey home from the pub is safe.

- Northern Advocate

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