DRINK DRIVING AND THE TRAGIC WASTE OF LIFE – Yesterday I wrote an article on the perils of using a mobile phone while driving and how the Police Commission, Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe would like to introduce measures so that drivers caught twice would lose their driving license.
Today I’m switching subjects and continents although people on both sides of the Atlantic, as with the article written yesterday, can certainly identify with the need to eradicate drink driving.
Firstly, take a look at the picture below. While this is of a young lady in the UK, this picture could be anyone of the thousands that are maimed each year on either side of the pond due to those who simply cannot say no to a drink and then get behind the wheel of a car.
According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD – madd.org) Americans take a total of 233 billion trips a year in their motor vehicles. These include short trips to the local shops and mall and long distance journeys. They also make up the numbers who use their cars to go to their local restaurants and bars.
Of all these trips taken, according to statistics, one out of every two are done so while under the influence of alcohol. The death toll, for drink driving related accidents, or manslaughter depending on your view, is a staggering one in every three.
MADD’s website reports that on average one person is killed, due to drink driving every 53 minutes in the US, which in 2011 equated to 9,878 people was killed. Furthermore in the information reports that someone is seriously injured in a drink drive related accident every 90 seconds.
One of the biggest issues with drink driving is the high number of people who consistently repeat the offense. Nearly 1/3 of all drink driving related accidents are caused by repeat offenders.
Police forces, across the United State have clear evidence that merely taking away their license does not solve the issue as between 50 to 75% of drink drivers will happily get behind the wheel of a vehicle without a license.
Surely these figures, along with the fact that current legislation is not a preventative method, things should change and the laws should be amended in order to better protect other road users.
What appears a little strange is that he US has different drink driving laws from state to state, that is according to the article, which focuses on 10 States with the Toughest DUI Laws
Drink driving laws certainly vary from country to country and some countries impose tougher penalties than others but considering the number of road deaths related to drink driving should we not take an entirely different approach in order to stamp it out?
Maybe it’s time for a change in the law. Maybe legislators should look at the possibility to make it a criminal offense to any bar owner to serve alcohol to a driver. This of course is fraught with difficulties as how can a bar owner determine who is and who is not operating a vehicle and therefore, although this has been suggested before, we cannot and should not put the onus on those who serve alcohol as the drivers should be the ones to take responsibilities for their actions.
On that note what about increasing the charge for anyone being pulled over and found to be intoxicated to the charge of ‘attempted manslaughter’? Surely if you knowingly get behind the wheel of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol you do so knowing that there is a high chance you could have an accident and take the life of another.
Legislation is all about creating rules that deter and punish us for our wrong-doings. If the punishment does not fit the crime, as it is clear with drink driving, current legislation is simply sending out the wrong message.
People who don’t care about the lives of others should not be given the opportunity to kill others and therefore incarcerating them and banning them from driving for a minimum of 5 years would certainly be a better deterrent.
We know that automobile technology is getting better and our cars are much safer and protect us and others in the event of an accident. However regardless to all the developments a vast number of people are dying on our roads every year due to drink drivers; something that simply cannot nor should be tolerated.
I have heard suggestion that manufacturers should include a breathalyzer unit in motor vehicles that would prevent the driver starting the engine if a certain blood-alcohol level was detected.
Another idea is a thumb print detector – this sends out a radio signal so that if the owner is on a national database of banned drivers the engine will not start.
These may, to some, appear somewhat ridiculous ideas but any idea to reduce the carnage on the roads surely has to be a good idea.
One thing is for sure if you drink and drive the chances are you could end up killing someone. MADD and many other Road Safety Organizations, such as the British ‘think! don’t drink‘ government website are trying to find ways to stop drink drivers killing and maiming innocent people.
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