December is a time of merriment. But that is not a licence for irresponsibility. We urge all to exercise good judgment during this season and to avoid drinking and driving.
The near-fatal accident involving a drunk driver crashing his car into the living room of a house accommodating two families is a cautionary tale. Miraculously, no one was killed or injured in that incident. But it could have easily ended differently. The families included several children. This was one incident too many.
Sadly, the conduct of the driver in question is not unusual. Many people drink and drive, ignoring the tremendous risks to themselves, their loved ones, fellow drivers and even people sitting in the comfort of their homes. We tend to believe we are infallible, that what we see happening around us cannot happen to us. Our attitude to these issues is not serious. Worse, it is often skewed.
One recent advertisement placed by law enforcement authorities shows footage from the scene of a deadly accident. In this footage, a man who pulls out children from the wreck laments, “If you know you cannot drink and drive, don’t do it.” But this is precisely the wrong thinking that encourages that which the advertisement seeks to address. It is not a matter of being able to drink and drive. The impact of alcohol on the body has nothing to do with ability or machismo.
Very often, drivers feel they have something to prove: we say “I can hold my drink” and then set out to prove it. The results are fatal.
There is also a role to be played by the State. The introduction of speed guns has been a welcome measure which has been effective. We also welcome any progress in reform of the motor vehicle laws, such as the pending matter of the new 100 mile per hour speed limit.
However, there is also a key role to be played by the regular enforcement of our traffic laws. The authorities must be on the alert, particularly during this season, as well as the Carnival season. Such enforcement must be sensibly approached: there should be no repeat of the infamous incident in which a pregnant woman who was giving birth was penalised for using the wrong lane.
But if ever there was a case where the State should send a strong signal it is Sunday’s living room crash. One is often tempted to say we live in a masochistic society in which we deliberately make choices that will do maximum harm. We need to stop this. Drivers must be responsible and the State ever vigilant.