SLEEP IT OFF, THEN DRIVE! This message on a public awareness campaign poster at the intersection of Kreutzwaldi and Raua in central Tallinn didn’t penetrate the awareness and/or conscience of all jaanipäeva (St. John’s Day / Midsummer) revellers on the eve of June 23. Estonians were enjoying a 4-day long weekend and a record number of people visited the islands – 16 000 people and 9000 cars to Saaremaa alone.
The tabloid newspaper SL Õhtuleht (Evening paper) was the only paper that went to print last Saturday, but it got its sensationalism. Its front page read: Jaanipäeva kurb lõpp (A sad end to St. John’s Day): 2 tapetut ja 122 joobes autojuhti (2 murdered and 122 drunk drivers). That figure jumped to 317 (the weekend total) in Monday morning’s papers. Perhaps there were more patrols out this year, but in comparison, a mere (?!) 83 drunk drivers were stopped on jaaniöö (the eve of St. John’s) last year. This year’s statistics also included a total of 144 underage drinkers and 68 speeding drivers being charged.
The highest incidence of violations was on the west coast where 12 traffic accidents were reported in which 2 people were injured. Local police fined 59 people under the influence and 42 underage drinkers for consuming alcohol in public places in Western Estonia. Since communal jaanituled (St. John’s bonfires) in public places are a rural institution, the fine line of controlled consumption no doubt became blurry for some. This is the other, extremely bleak side of summer merrymaking.
A graffitied message had been added to one poster: Räägi vähem, mõtle rohkem (Less talk, more action). In other words just do it.
SLEEP IT OFF, THEN DRIVE! (1)